27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I regret to inform the Senate of the passing on 17th April of a former senator, Charles Adcock Lamp. He was elected to the Senate for Tasmania in the general elections of 1937 and 1943. He represented his State in this place until 30th June 1950. A measure of the late senator’s interest in the affairs of the Senate can be seen from his membership of the following committees: He was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works from 11th December 1940 to 31st October 1949; the Joint Committee on Repatriation from 4th June 1942 to 28th January 1943; and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on War Expenditure from 12th November 1941 to 7th July 1943. He was the leader of the Australian delegation to the 28th Session of the International Labour Conference in Seattle in 1946.
Not only was Charles Lamp a well liked and hard working senator but he was also highly respected within the Australian Labor Party of which he was a member. He held the position of Secretary of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Labor Party and the Launceston Trades Hall Council. He had a distinguished war record. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1916 and served with the 9th Field Company Engineers. He was wounded in action in France in 1918 and returned to Australia one year later.
The late senator was here before most of us who sit in the Senate at present were elected to this place and therefore many of us, except perhaps the Tasmanians, would not have known him personally. Charles Adcock Lamp served his country in war, and in peace he served his country as a member of the Senate. He will be missed by all those who knew him, particularly in the parliamentary scene and certainly in his own State of Tasmania.
I wish on behalf of all senators to offer condolences and sympathy to his family in his sad passing.
– I wish to associate the Australian Labor Party with the remarks of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson on the occasion of the death of Charles Lamp. I do not intend to speak at length because, as Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has pointed out, there are few of us, apart from the forty-niners who sat with Charles Lamp for 6 months until his term expired on 30th June 1950 - this includes Senator Wright and myself - who were in this place with him. I will leave the main duties of the occasion to Senator O’Byrne who, being the father of the Senate, spent at least 3 years with him in this place. Also, as a fellow Tasmanian, he knew Charles Lamp better than anyone in this place.
Originally, Charles Lamp wrote to me in Western Australia over some matters which I suppose might be called quasi-political and asked me to do something for him. I first met him during the 6 months that he and I were here. I have seen him on a fair number of occasions since those days. I saw him recently whenI was in Tasmania and, as was typical of Charles Lamp, he was still active in the Labor movement. He still took a keen interest in politics and in all the things that arise out of politics - the various things that are developing and the efforts of the Government and the Opposition in this place.
He was a very personable and charming man. I always had the feeling that he was a man who was devoted to his family. Again, I think this would be consistent because just as he was very much attached to the Australian Labor Party and all those things in which he was interested, I am sure he would also be deeply attached to his family. The Leader of the Government has pointed out that Charles Lamp was wounded in the First World War. It was a wound that caused him quite some distress. I remember travelling in the plane with him to Melbourne when he was going down to his retirement. He was going to Tasmania and I was going to Western Australia. At that time I was quite worried how his health would be from that day on. However, the good Lord spared him over all this time. We regret the passing of an old colleague. Like the Leader of the Government, I wish to associate my Party with the message of condolence to his loved ones.
– I should like to be personally associated with this condolence motion to the late Charles Adcock Lamp who sat in the Senate from 1937 to L950. For three of those years he was a colleague of mine while we were in government and in a majority in the Senate. Charles Lamp was a man of great simplicity and humility. He started his life on the west coast of Tasmania and was employed in the Tasmanian Government Railways as a blacksmith. He had a great interest in his fellow men in union affairs being always a staunch unionist. He was a man who tried to help his fellow unionists and a man who was always forthright in putting up a genuine case for justice for his fellow workers. At the time that he was working with the railways he was the honorary secretary of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labor Party. He carried out the duties of that office with great credit and was responsible for building the Party to a stage where it could have a proper organisation and a paid staff. He was a life member of the Australian Labor Party, Tasmanian branch, and was very highly respected by all its members, being a very regular attender al our conferences where bis wisdom, experience and good judgment were constantly sought.
He was a keen sportsman who took a wide interest in sporting events. But above all, he was a great lover of music. 1 should say that he had one of the finest collections of recorded classical music of any person I know. He would delight in having his leisure hours filled with beautiful music as a background to his life. He was a most generous and kindly man. His main mission in life was to try to make the world a better place than it was when he came to it. As has already been mentioned, he served his country well in war and in peace. This nation, and particularly Tasmania, will be much poorer for his passing. To his wife, May, to bis son, Charles, and his daughter, Elsie, I extend my very deepest sympathy in their very great loss.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party associates itself with the tribute to the late senator and offers its most sincere condolences to his relatives.
– I should like to be associated with this motion. Charles Lamp was known to me over many years. In fact, the members of the Lamp family were family friends. My first close association with Charles Lamp was in the latter part of his parliamentary career. I was the secretary of his committee in the year in which he was defeated in the Senate election. I had another very close association with Charles Lamp when I was President of the Tasmanian Trade Union Council. At that time, Charles Lamp, in addition to being Secretary of the Launceston Trades Hall Council, as mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), was also the Secretary of the Tasmanian Trade Union Council. J. could pay no higher tribute to Charles Lamp than to say that he was one of the best trade union secretaries that it was my pleasure to work with during the period that 1 was the President of that Council. 1 join with Senator O’Byrne in extending my sympathy to his son, Charles, and to his daughter, Elsie, who is married and in Canada. 1 note also that Charles Lamp’s widow is still a member of the Slate Executive of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. She is very active and has kept members of the Executive informed of Charles Lamp’s health over the past few months. I wish to bring out one other interesting factor in regard to Charles Lamp’s life. In 1947-48 he was the chairman of a committee which investigated the setting up of parliamentary offices in Hobart. It was he who, as the chairman of that committee, brought forward a report on the purchase of a block of ground in Hobart for that purpose. All in all, one can say that Tasmania will be the poorer for the passing of Charles Lamp. 1 join in extending sympathy to those whom he leaves behind.
– As a mark of respect to the late senator, I invite honourable senators to stand in their places for a brief moment. (Honourable senators having stood in their places) -
– I thank honourable senators.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiencies in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.
That extra Federal finance is urgently required to save the government school system.
That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts of public money are being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for Stale school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is specifically responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
The Honourable the President, and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department Central Office policy, of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the public, directly resulting in the closing of Post Offices, which is detrimental to the public interest.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
The Honourable the President, and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department, Central Administration Board’s Policy of recentralising and concentrating certain staffs, under what is called the Area Management Project, to the great detriment of the economics of the towns and related rural areas, and to the detriment of the overall morale, efficiency and independence of the Australian Post Office is against the public interest and should be made the subject of special investigation by the Senate’s Social Environment Committee and by the Senate’s Finance and Government Operations Standing Committee.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to refer the above matters to the two committees of the Senate referred to, and in the meantime will order that:
There will be no transfers of persons, areas of authority or operations under the Area Management Project; and,
No further appointments to positions under Area Managers or above them in the State Administrations or Central Administration of the Australian Post Office until the two committees of the Senate have investigated the matters and reported to the Senate and the Government.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Similar petitions were presented by Senator McManus and Senator Little.
Petitions severally received.
– Last Wednesday Senator Milliner directed my attention to the fact that the publication of Hansard that day was 4½ hours late, thereby causing great inconvenience to the recipients.I had already established that the delay was due to a mechanical breakdown at the Printing Office, and I decided to investigate the matter further.
Last Thursday morning the House Committee discussed the printing position with the Principal Parliamentary Reporter and the Government Printer. They explained that in a period of 14 months from the beginning of the Budget session in 1970 the total average increase in parliamentary printing was 44.3 per cent and an even greater increase was to be expected. They said that the present methods of producing Hansard, Votes, Journals and Notice Papers were obsolete and not replaceable and that new machinery was needed to carry out the production of Parliament’s printing in the time required. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter and Government Printer said also that the whole position had been thoroughly examined in 1971 by the Joint Committee on Publications, which had recommended to the Government that the Printer’s application for new equipment be reconsidered in the light of the savings which would emanate from the purchase of it. 7 commend the statement to honourable senators in their own interests.
– Yesterday Senator McLaren asked me a complicated question which I undertook to consider. Honourable senators will recollect that Senator McLaren centred his question upon some statistics I quoted to the Senate as to the number of questions asked and answered in each chamber. My reason for quoting these figures was to reassure honourable senators, if reassurance was necessary, that quantitatively the Senate had ample opportunity of examining Ministers as to Government policy and administration.
The second matter is that I wish to state in unequivocal terms that procedures, qualitative references and quantitative statistics are a matter for each House to analyse. No chamber should seek to reflect on either House in any way. I shall resist this either in the Senate or in another place. Thirdly, I am aware of the relevant standing order as to questions but I am aware also that a Presiding Officer must take into account the ‘sense’ of the chamber as it exists. Accordingly, I think there are times when it may be appropriate for me to suggest that question time might be concluded and the Business of the Day proceeded with.
– -I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development: Is Australia currently negotiating with France to arrange a treaty far co-operation in the area of the peaceful use of atomic energy? If so, is it the Government’s intention that the treaty should be in similar terms to that signed in February between Japan and Australia?
– It is my understanding that these discussions are taking place. I think in fairness to the responsible Minister the balance of the question should be directed to him through me. The question asks for information on policy, so I think it properly should go direct to him.
– Has the Minister for Health read in today’s Press that an eminent scientist has stated that cigarette smoking as practised in Australia is responsible for between 95 and 98 per cent of primary lung cancer? As Australian cigarette consumption per capita has nearly doubled in the last IS years, will the Minister recommend a control of cigarette promotion by making it compulsory for all cigarette packets to carry a warning label and record of the tar and nicotine content?
I did see part of the statement to which the honourable senator refers. Without necessarily agreeing with the totality of the judgment made, I should say that this is a world health problem. I believe it is accepted the world over, by the World Health Organisation and by people in the hierarchy of medicine, that there is a distinct causal link between lung cancer and cigarette smoking. The percentage of lung cancer cases attributed to cigarette smoking is a matter which could be debated. It is difficult to resolve this question because medical opinion varies in relation to the degree of this link. Recently I saw a movie in which some American professors of medicine said that the link did nol exist, but I think general world belief is that there is a link.
That brings me to the second part of the honourable senator’s question. As honourable senators know, certain States of the Commonwealth have passed legislation to require health warning labels on cigarette packets. Victoria recently passed a Bill for this purpose and I understand that it will come into effect on 1st January next year. South Australia has passed legislation which has not been gazetted because it has not received the Royal assent. I believe the Victorian legislation was passed on the understanding that when a certain number of the other States passed like legislation, that State would then give effect to its legislation. I am led to believe also from information provided to me that other States are currently examining this question, particularly as it relates to the labelling of cigarette packets.
The Commonwealth is concerned with the position in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Under our Constitution, to the extent that this matter involves the States it is in the hands of the sovereign States. The Commonwealth’s attitude has been that if the States passed legislation the Commonwealth would come into line with it. The fact is that the matter is currently under examination at the Commonwealth level. The legislation in Victoria sets down certain requirements. If there is to be labelling of cigarettes in Australia it would be most desirable that it be uniform. Let us face it: This is an Australian industry and there would have to be one form of labelling; otherwise there would be one system in Victoria, another in Tasmania, another in South Australia and there could be a different one in New South Wales if an executive decision in this respect is taken. I have the matter under examination currently. The Government also at this time has under examination the implications of the recent decisions taken in States as they affect the Commonwealth.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government who represents the Minister for Defence. I preface my question, if I may, by stating that it arises as a result of representations made to me by the distraught mother of a Royal Australian Air Force officer who was posted as missing in enemy territory in Vietnam 17 months ago. Is my understanding correct that the North Vietnamese do not provide to the Australian Government the names of prisoners of war? Can the Minister say whether there has been any change in this attitude by the North Vietnamese about providing the names of prisoners of war held by them since the Australian withdrawal from that area? If not, will the Australian Government renew approaches through the appropriate channels to ascertain the names of any people who may be held by them? Also, can he say what the Australian Government’s policy has been in regard to listing the names of North Vietnamese prisoners held by the Australians?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThis is a very human problem, one which some honourable senators on both sides of the chamber would properly appreciate. I am sure everybody appreciates it. My information is that Australia has no diplomatic relations with North Vietnam. The names of prisoners of war captured by the Australian forces have been supplied to the International Committee of the Red Cross which has a complete list. There are no known Australian prisoners of war but 2 RAAF officers are missing. Because of the unavailability of direct contact with North Vietnam we have asked friendly countries with representation in North Vietnam to make inquiries on our behalf about the 2 RAAF officers. So far these inquiries have not produced any information which would indicate that the officers are held as prisoners of war.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity of Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the tax free allowances recently granted to those with enough money to invest on the stock exchanges, has the Government considered granting income tax exemption to the interest given by building societies and the like and by savings banks to those people with a taxable income of less than $4,000 per annum?
That clearly is a matter of Government policy. I suggest that the question be placed on the notice paper and I will see that it is referred to the Treasurer.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that in a Melbourne County Court yesterday Judge Hewitt, in dismissing Mr Ken McLelland’s appeal, k reported as having said that he was of the opinion that the National Service Act gave him no discretion at all in the matter and ‘although 1 loathe to do so 1 must confirm the sentence”? In the interests of justice I ask the Minister whether he will examine the transcript of this hearing and if necessary consult Judge Hewitt to ascertain what deficiencies exist, if any, in the National Service Act which prohibit or inhibit a judge from exercising his judicial judgment and discretion based on the evidence placed before him.
– 1 have read the Press reports of what was said yesterday when Mr McLelland chose to go to gaol rather then enter into a recognisance to undertake his national service. I think it should always be appreciated that when persons offend against the National Service Act in the circumstances in which Mr McLelland has it is a voluntary act on the pan of those people. They are given the choice of either entering into a recognisance to undertake their national service or go to gaol. Mr McLelland chose to go to gaol. 1 can well understand a judge, or any person, feeling a reluctance in those circumstances to have to sentence a person to gaol. But. as the judge said, the Act allows him no discretion. lt should never be forgotten that the National Service Act requires for our defence preparedness that a cetain number of young persons undertake 18 months service. It would be totally unfair - to use the honourable senator’s expression, it. is a matter of justice - that those who seek to escape scot free from their obligation in the belief that they do not have to obey the National Service Act should not be subjected to .a penalty because of the attitude they adopt. It is a matter of being fair for one and fair for all. I shall examine the transcript but I am not prepared to enter into a consultation with the judge as the honourable senator suggests. I do not think it is proper that the Executive arm should consult with the judicial arm in that way.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the agreement between the
Waterside Workers Federation and the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour on wages and conditions includes a 35-hour week and an immediate increase of $8 a week in basic pay? Can the Minister say whether steps can be taken to prevent such employers doing a sell-out to excessive union demands which eventually will mean a greatly increased surcharge on freights and costs?
– As I understand the agreement it does involve a nominal 35- hour week. After taking meal breaks into account it is actually a 31i-hour week. The agreement also involves an actual increase of $8 a week for the waterside worker’s labour. The structure of legislation which has been built up for the benefit of waterside workers over the last 15 years has, in effect, erected a legislative monopoly for that group of workers. As the Minister for Labour and National Service said yesterday, this agreement is unfortunate in 2 important respects. Firstly it provides for a reduction of working time to 35 hours a week without consultation with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which should be the body to give a guide upon such important national industrial matters. Secondly, it has been made without any reference to the Waterside Council, which is a body specially set up to consult in relation to matters affecting the waterfront.
The agreement represents a massive assault upon that system. The degree to which it demands most anxious consideration can be gauged from the fact that as recently as last February the impost: which was put upon employers of waterside labour to finance idle time, long service leave, annual and sick leave, pensions and redundancy benefits was increased from the enormous amount of 65c per man-hour to $1 per man-hour. One of those items alone - idle time - accounts for an expenditure of nol: less than $8m in one year. That represents the degree to which other people on the waterfront, such as importers and exporters, are being imposed upon by these unjustified and extravagant demands.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 assume he is aware thai the United Suites Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voicd 9 to 1 in favour of cutting off all funds for the Indo-Ch-ina war by the end of this year, and thai if this is approved by Congress it will compel President Nixon to get out of Vietnam before then. Has the Leader of the Government a statement to make to the Senate on what measures the Australian Government proposes to take to meet such an eventuality, thus helping to relieve the conscience prevailing among so many Australian people who now realise the futility of our involvement?
The honourable senator’s question is linked with our relations with the United Stales of America, a country with which we have alliances - we have had close links with it throughout our history - and he suggests thai because of some resolution carried in a parliamentary committee in America I should make a statement of Government policy. Under any head of argument his question is out of order. It seeks information on a question of policy, il seeks from a Minister at question time a judgment on our relations with an ally and a friendly nation, and therefore 1 suggest that no answer is really required from me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to a report in an Adelaide newspaper which referred to what was described as a deterioration in spelling and which further carried a comment by a Melbourne high school headmaster that ‘bad spelling is a nuisance and embarrassing socially - but it is nol significant educationally.’ I ask the Minister whether the Department has any agreement with this point of view. Does he not feel that for communication to be effective, correctness and consistency in spelling are essential? Will the Department confer with State departments of education to determine forms of spelling that are accepted as correct, not careless, and significant educationally?
– Insofar as the Federal Government has responsibility for education. I am sure the Department and the Minister are quite conscious of the fact that spelling is a simple aid to the language which we use to understand each other. As to giving guidance to State authorities, 1 cannot offer any enthusiasm or courage. I would trespass upon that province with great reluctance.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Was an amount of §750,000 spent on repairing and refitting HMAS ‘Queenborough’? Was the work completed last year? After the ship had been at sea for 4 days did it break clown and have to return to Sydney? Has HMAS ‘Queenborough’ been relegated to the scrap heap within the last 3 weeks at Garden Island in Sydney? Will the Minister admit that the Navy has been patching up old and obsolete vessels merely to give the Australian public the impression that Australia has some element of a naval flotilla and merely to provide commands for senior naval officers?
– 1 would not accept the last part of the honourable senators question. I feel quite sure that the Minister for the Navy will have something to say about it. The honourable senator asked me a series of detailed questions which I believe can be answered only after a great deal of study, so 1 suggest that he put his question on notice.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science been drawn to recent Press reports stating that certain rebel students had occupied the administration buildings at La Trobe University for a period of days until recently, thus obstructing the operation of that university? Has the Minister’s attention also been drawn lo Press reports that among the students lying in, occupying the administration rooms and corridors of La Trobe University and discussing further action on and supporting the improper occupation was a so-called student named William Hartley, former Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, a branch which will be remembered? Is the Minister able to say whether this is the same Mr Hartley who is presently a member of the Federal Executive and the Federal Conference of the ALP? Is it a fact that between biennial conferences the Federal Executive of the ALP interprets Labor policy and directs ALP parliamentarians how to vote?
– You will do your endorsement. Is the Minister able to state whether an education policy dictated partly by a gentleman who takes part in improper occupation of university premises and so prevents its proper functioning would be in the genuine interests of Australian students?
– I call Senator Wright as Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science.
Opposition senators - Oh!
– I wish to make a short, sharp announcement. Those honourable senators who are inclined to accept and evolve bovine characteristics will be assisted to go where the grass is.
- Mr President, I think you should have said ‘draft’ instead of ‘grass’. Reports have come to my notice to the effect that for some days students were able to occupy the corridors of the La Trobe University. The reports were to the effect that the aforesaid William Hartley was one of the students, that the discarded official of the Australian Labor Party now occupies the role of a pseudo student, and that in the interests of a subversive minority group he now is carrying on the left wing Labor policy of preventing, within the educational institution, the great body of purposeful students from getting the instruction to which they are entitled and of preventing the great body of dedicated staff from fulfilling their proper educational functions. The Federal Government has increased its involvement in Australian university education in the last 10 years from the then appropriation of $28m to the present appropriation of $90m and it is encumbent upon university administation to understand that no Government responsible for that expenditure could remain unconcerned about the frustration of the proper purposes to which those appropriations should be put.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry recall his answer to my question on 29th February about the supply of nonAustralian produced wool for manufacture into carpet to cover the floors of the Sydney Opera House? Does he also recall that in answer to a question by me on 2nd March and a question by Senator Lillico on 7th March he stated that he would find out what research had been undertaken into the growing of suitable Australian wool for carpet manufacture? How does the Minister reconcile those answers to my questions with the answer he gave on 13th April when I asked about a trade mission for the promotion of Australian highfashion woollen garments similar to that conducted by an Irish trade mission in Sydney and he said: ‘One has only to visit the International Wool Secretariat in London to see Australian wool being promoted in all manner of ways, one instance being the very lavish carpets on the floor as one enters the front door of the building’?
– I recall the answers that I have given. Perhaps I do stand corrected on one word - the word ‘Australian’. I was referring to the International Wool Secretariat in London to which I believe New Zealand, South Africa and Australia contribute. The carpets were all-wool. As I said, I stand corrected on one word.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Further to the question asked by Senator Brown, I ask the Attorney-General whether he has read the statement attributed to Judge Hewitt which states in part:
It seems evidence shows the appellant is a conscientious individual doing good work in the community,. But he has gone into this with his eyes wide open - maybe he took the wrong advice. The Attorney-General may release him at any stage. The Commonwealth can do as it likes.
Will the Attorney-General examine the transcript of this case and give very sympathetic consideration to what appears to be a very broad hint that this man should not be incarcerated because of his actions and beliefs?
– I have already given the assurance that I will examine the transcript of this case. I have noted the judge’s remarks and I note particularly his use of the word ‘conscientious’. It is well known that there is a provision in the
National Service Act whereby people who have a conscientious objection to any form of military service merely have to make an application and that application will be determined. Experience indicates that approximately 85 to 90 per cent of all applications that are made are successful.
Mr McLelland has chosen not to make any such application and as the judge said he has entered into this course with his eyes open. The Attorney-General has no power to interfere with the processes of law and to release a person who has been given a gaol sentence, and to that extent I am sure that the record of what the Judge said is not wholly accurate - at least that would would be my belief, knowing the judge. In the circumstances 1 can only repeat that 1 will examine the transcript. But on the material which is currently available to me, there is no action which I cun take.
– J would like to ask the Minister for Health a question concerning children at risk in poisoning cases, is he aware that children between the age of 1 and 5 years are those most at risk from accidental poisoning? Is he aware that in 1970 in this age group 3,578 cases of poisoning were reported out of a total of 8,191? I am sure that the Minister is aware that I have for 4 years tried to get his Department to do something about this In regard to safety containers. Honourable senators will remember that I circulated these containers among senators to see whether they could open them and about one-third of them could not. I have asked the Minister 2 questions already. I also ask him whether he has read his Department’s journal. If so, has he seen that after 4 years enlightenment has struck his Department which now says that safety containers in themselves are not sufficient, nor is any one yet designed thoroughly satisfactorily but they certainly play a part in helping to protect young children? When the hell is the Minister’s Department going to protect these young children? This is the question I ask the Minister.
– I would say a number of things to Senator Turnbull. First of all I inform him that I have read the journal. As 1 understand it the journal would have been distributed because of a requirement issued by me that this course be followed. Secondly, I would agree with the honourable senator, as I think we all agree, that children in the age group which he mentioned go through a very critical period in which they are at risk in regard to drugs. Children in this age group tend to get into cupboards at home and other places where they should not be. In their own homes they have access to drugs which are deleterious or dangerous to them. There should be also a very proper parental control of those things which are dangerous to children. The next point I make is that Senator Turnbull has been a Minister for Health in a sovereign State government. I am sure that he knows - perhaps he has forgotten - that under this whole structure of controls there is, and has to be, a degree of co-operation and relationship between the States and the Commonwealth. He oversimplifies the whole matter in his question. I think that when he comes to reflect upon it he will realise that I am just as concerned as he is about the question that he raises. I suggest, with great respect, that he oversimplifies the solution. Despite his oversimplification he and the Senate can be assured that the Commonwealth is continuing to examine this matter in the light of it being a very real problem. I think that we are on common ground on that score in relation to this issue.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. When a young man who has been called up for national service rejects his obligation, is it the position that a vacancy is merely left unfilled so that another young man who would otherwise not have been called up is called up to take the place of the person who rejects his obligation? If the latter is the case, should not a little of the sympathy be diverted to the man who is called up because another person rejects his call-up?
– As my colleague the Attorney-General has so often pointed out, if one man who is required to do duty for national service evades that duty somebody else has to stand in for him. An equitable enforcement of the law without discrimination to anyone upon whom an obligation falls is carried out for the purpose of fairness in regard to the discharge of that duty. The actual position is that out of a number varying from, I think, 90,000 to 110,000 of those who register, the numbers are winnowed down because of medical and other grounds to about 8,000. Then, allowance has been made for those who do not answer a call-up notice, so that the ultimate number or objective of the call-up comes into the draft. But the undoubted fact is, as the honourable senator implies, that somebody else has to stand in in the defaulter’s place. That is the basis upon which the obligation of the law is imposed upon the defaulter.
– Can the Minister for Health inform the Parliament of the names and qualifications of the current members of the Australian Drug Evaluation Commitee? Can he also advise by whom the members are appointed, the length of time that each member serves on the Committee and how often this Committee meets?
May I interpose a lighter point for a moment in relation to a question that was asked earlier of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science concerning the problems of spelling. If one wished to be faced with problems about spelling one might become the Minister for Health, who is faced with many hundreds of different biological and chemical terms. 1 am sure that these are a horror to those who must type them.
Now I come to the serious question that Senator Keeffe has posed. Yes, I will be happy to provide the honourable senator wilh the information that he seeks. As a matter of fact for some weeks I carried among my papers a list of the names of the members of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee. I think I have taken that list out of my papers. I will certainly put that list down tomorrow together with all the relevant information that I can give in answer to the honourable senator’s question. I can say in the generality that the members of this Committee are eminent people in their professions. Sir William Morrow is the Chairman of that Committee, which includes great physicians and members of the medical profession together with representatives of the pharmaceutical field. I will be happy to put the information down tomorrow.
- Senator Georges, as you. have returned from distant parts, I call on you to ask the next question.
– Thank you, Mr President, for your welcome. I must say that, during my absence, the acoustics of the chamber have improved, but the performance of the Government has not. I ask a question of the Minister for Health. Is it correct, as reported, that the name of a drug which may be linked with deformities in babies is to be withheld by the Commonwealth Department of Health? Can the Minister justify the right of his Department to withhold such knowledge from a woman who may have used the drug? Is it not the right of such a woman to have this information so that she may take what action she thinks fit? Is there not a danger that such a woman may continue to take the drug and risk the consequences?
The honourable senator has returned from a foreign land and therefore he will not be aware of the circumstances with which we were confronted possibly a month or 6 weeks ago.
– It was not a foreign land; it was London.
– I am informed that the honourable senator was in London. During his absence, a matter arose in relation to a drug which was suspect as a cause of deformity in children. That drug was referred to the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee. At that time I took the initiative as the Minister for Health and directed that approximately 18,600 telegrams be sent to members of the medical profession in Australia and that subsequently letters be written to them in relation to the judgment of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee on that drug. These are matters on which judgments must be made.
Let me refer to what happened yesterday. My understanding is that Dr McBride, who is a world figure and who was the doctor involved with the reference to imipramine which was the drug considered previously, informed the Secretary of the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee of the birth in Sydney at the weekend of a child with a reduction deformity of one limb. The Secretary of the Committee acquainted the Committee with the details of Dr McBride’s report. The matter is being considered in the normal way by that Committee, as is its function. At this time, no judgment can be made. No announcement has been made by me about the name of the drug; nor do 1 intend to announce its name. But I know that the Committee will treat this matter as of the same importance and with the same urgency with which it dealt with the other matter. Until this matter is resolved - and it will be resolved quickly - we would not wish to cause tremendous concern, upset, anxiety and worry to the many, many people who may be using the drug.
Dr Mc Bride has not said this is the result of the use of a certain drug. He has had the matter referred to the special committee against the background of what happened previously in relation to another drug, when the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee did not confirm the judgments that Dr McBride had made. In fairness to Dr McBride, I should say that he did not make judgments even in relation to that other drug but had it referred to the Committee because it might have had implications. We must always remember - and 1 am sure Senator Turnbull would agree with this if he were here - that hundreds and hundreds of years before we had drugs of this nature there were certain deformities in kiddies. So, for goodness sake, let us not blow this matter up in the way that one of the media blew it up this morning. Let us handle it properly. The media this morning, with one exception, showed excellent restraint. I ask honourable senators opposite to give us the chance to do the things that in all humanity we want to do. For God’s sake, do not start to create fear and fright in the hearts and minds of thousands of womenfolk and parents.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for the
Interior: Why was the meeting of members of the Miners Federation which was held outside Parliament House today attended by policemen with cameras who took photographs of those present at the meeting? What is to be done with the photographs? Why should these citizens be treated as criminals or potential criminals?
– I was not at the meeting of members of the Miners Federation and I do not know whether people were taking pictures. If they were, 1 do not know what they intend to do with them. It was a fine day and the fountains were playing, and they might have wanted pictures for their albums.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In the face of the misgivings expressed by the New South Wales Minister responsible for environmental standards in that State, Mr Jack Beale, on the proposed inaugural flight of the Concorde in June, does the
Minister feel that effective liaison has been forged with the State Ministers responsible for environmental standards?
– Yes, I do. I noted Mr Beale’s objections as mentioned in the newspaper report, which reached me at about the same time as a communication from Mr Beale reached me. The honourable senator may be quite sure that we would consult very carefully with the State authorities. If New South Wales, through Mr Beale, has a great objection to the proposed Concorde flight and if he indicates thai to me quite clearly, or the Premier indicates it to the Prime Minister, I will take quite seriously the proposition that perhaps the Concorde should not come to New South Wales.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Is it a fact that the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in the United States of America was reconstituted late in 1970 to include members with a professional competency in physical fitness? Is it also a fact that there is a close parallel between the problems of fitness in the United States of America and Australia? In view of this and the continued failure of the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness to produce results of the fitness survey of young Australians, will the Minister discuss with his departmental officers the problem of the reorganisation of this body in order that it may function more in line with the 1970s than an earlier era?
It is true, as I understand it, that in September 1970 President Nixon appointed 15 nationally recognised fitness and sports figures to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports which presently is chaired by ex-astronaut James Lovell whom I personally happened to meet when I was visiting Cape Kennedy as Minister for Supply. In addition 100 famous athletes and sports figures were appointed to form an advisory conference to serve the Council in a voluntary capacity as guest speakers, panel members and study group leaders. The report on the survey of the fitness of young Australians - this is coming back to the problem of the National Fitness Council about which the honourable senator spoke - is now being prepared for publication. It will be recalled that I made a statement recently about a decision to publish the report. The Council is now working on that. This will be approved finally by the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness at its meeting in August, at which date it should be printed. The view that I hold, and I know that the honourable senator holds, is that in the circumstances the sooner it is printed the better. The honourable senator and, indeed, the Senate will be pleased to learn that consideration is being given to the possibility of updating the existing National Fitness Act.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to an article in the ‘National Times’ of 17th April to the effect that Federal Cabinet has reached general agreement to cut the excise on wine by at least 50 per cent without waiting for Professor Grant’s report and that because of this Cabinet decision the report now appears to be of very little value? In view of persistent reports that a decision has been made on wine excise, 1 now ask the Leader: Will he clarify the issue by making a statement to the Senate as to when the wine industry can expect the relaxation of the wine excise to take effect?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONNo, I would not attempt to intervene in a question of that nature. I would not reflect upon the substance of the honourable senator’s question at all. A report has been sought and no doubt it will be put down in the fullness of time. Anything I say beyond that would be a reflection, by implication, on a matter of Government policy, and that I cannot do.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior a question which follows on from a question asked by Senator Wheeldon. I inform the Minister that the person in possession of the televising equipment and the recording equipment at the demonstration was a member of the Police Force. He indicated that to me. Will the Minister take into account that this practice, which is admitted by the Police Force, would intimidate those people who wanted to take an interest in what those miners had to say today and could intimidate any person who wished to attend this or any peaceful demonstration? Can the Minister seek a statement from the Minister for the Interior as to the new policy on both televising and recording of demonstrations?
– The honourable senator seeks through me information from the responsible Minister on this episode which was referred to by Senator Wheeldon and to which he has added some information himself. I shall ask the responsible Minister for that information.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services aware that a Mr A. W. Plath, endorsed Australian Country Party candidate for Isis in the forthcoming State general elections in Queensland, has stated that the Federal Government proposes to introduce a superannuation scheme and would establish the fund with a pool of about $300m from which payments would be made from the beginning? Will the Minister tell the Senate whether he is in agreement with this view?
-I am not aware that such a statement was made. I think it would be entering hazardous territory to express an opinion upon what any member of Parliament or any candidate for Parliament might say at any time.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it a fact that the impending closure of the Broken Hill South mine has disclosed that the retraining scheme of the Department of Labour and National Service is ill-equipped to meet situations of this kind?
– I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. Is he aware of an application by Ansett-Airlines of Australia Ltd to become the sole airline operator in Papua New Guinea? Will he tell the Senate who will deal with such an application and who will make the decision? Can the Senate be assured that the Australian Government will not support such a proposition and that the rights of Trans-Australia Airlines to entry and operation in Papua New Guinea will be protected?
– I have no knowledge of the application. My understanding is that the Administrator of the Territory, taking advice from the Ministers of the House of Assembly of the Territory exercising responsibility, will have predominant functions in the determination of airways in the Territory, but no doubt after having consideration for the Minister representing the Australian Government.
(Questions upon notice and the answers thereto are published at the end of the day’s proceedings.)
– In answering a question from Senator McManus about national sevice it is my recollection that I stated a figure of 90,000 to 110,000 in relation to people balloted in. It is my belief that I should have used the word registered’. I have not been able to check the records. I ask for leave to substitute the word ‘registered’ for ‘balloted in’ in the Hansard record of my answer for the purpose of accuracy.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Senator Poyser has indicated his agreement to that course being taken.
– I have received the following letter from Senator Bishop:
In accordance with Standing Order 64, I intend to move on Wednesday, 19 April 1972: That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow (Thursday) at 11.05 a.m. for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely, the failure of the Government to safeguard the future of the Australian aircraft industry.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 11.5 a.m.
I do so for the purpose of enabling a debate on a matter of urgency, namely:
The failure of the Government to safeguard the future of the Australian aircraft industry.
I think the facts are well known. This is a very serious topic for the employees in the Australian aircraft industry, in government and private factories, most of whom are very highly skilled. It is also one of great concern to government and private manufacturers who, at this time, do not have any long range plans to help the industry whose capability has become well known and has been recognised over the years. While this Government is providing massive finance or is approving huge borrowings for the purpose of importing military and civilian aircraft and their military requirements, much of which could and should be produced in this country, the Australian manufacturing capacity is only partly employed. As a matter of fact there is a complete lack, of support by this Government for the industry. I suggest that over many years this Government has been frequently warned about the urgent need to give the industry a stimulus.
Some piecemeal measures have been arranged between the Government and private manufacturers, including some from overseas. But there has not been the sort of long range plan which should be adopted to keep the industry going. Over the years all the people in the industry have acquired a great deal of skill and our productvity in the industry has become well known. I do not think 1 need to extend the argument because it is well known that we have a very effective capacity.
As everybody knows, what is happening is that retrenchments or fear of retrenchments are still in the air. During the early part of this year another 26 men were dismissed from the Government Aircraft Factories at Avalon. After representations from the Australian Council, of Trade Unions some few men were kept on. But a general uncertainty surrounds the activities of the aircraft industry. This uncertainty should not obtain because, as I have said, its capability is clear to anybody who knows the industry. It must be clear to the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), to the Department of Supply, the Department of Defence and their ancillaries that there is a competence in the industry which ought to be used. There should be a plan to keep the industry going at full steam. There is not such a plan. As I have said, this uncertainty and dissatisfaction are felt not only by people who work in the industry but also by manufacturers. This feeling should not be current.
In addition to all this uncertainty there is also concern about a possible merger. Honourable senators will recall that following representations which have been made not only by people outside Parliament but also people inside various Ministers have proposed rationalisation. We do not disagree with rationalisation but the idea grew into the concept that there should be a merger between the Government Aircraft Factories and the private manufacturers. Although such a motion has not been agreed upon by the Government, it should be adopted only as a last resort. A merger was proposed simply to deal with the defects which I have mentioned and which flow from the absence of a positive policy by the Government to use our capacity in a proper way. In using that capacity we would not only ensure that there would be useful production but also that in the proper defence circumstances we would have a continuing capacity; we would not be caught with our pants down if any crisis occurred.
Over the years, more particularly in the last 2 years, there has been an acceptance by the Government of what we and the people in the industry proposed many months ago, that is, that there ought to be a very definite policy of offset orders and coproduction where that is possible. Unfortunately these aims have not been achieved. The result is that the people I have spoken about, the industry leaders, are still in a state of uncertainty. Why do we keep importing these huge bits of machinery, aircraft and everything else without insisting upon a greater share of the work?.
At the present time the share we are getting, after a lot of agitation, does not amount to more than about $7m. Let me refer to the imports of aircraft since the year 1969-70. The research section of the Parliamentary Library provided the figures for me. For aircraft exceeding 5.000 lb weight, in 1969-70, 35 aircraft were imported at a cost of $39,476,000. In 1970-71, 64 aircraft in this category were imported at a cost of $108,460,000. In the 8 months ended February 1972, 24 such aircraft were imported at a cost of $33,512,000. For lighter aircraft, not exceeding 5,000 lb, in 1969-70, 255 were imported at a cost of $8,639,000; in 1 970- 71, 127 were imported at a cost of $6,700,000; and in the 8 months to Febru- ary 1972, 49 were imported at a cost of $1,928,000. For helicopters, in 1969-70, 28 were imported at a cost of $2,478,000; in 1970-71, 38 were imported at a cost of $4,797,000^ and in the 8 months to February 1972, 22 were imported at a cost of $4,769,000. For heavier-than-air craft, non-powered, in 1969-70, 28 were imported at a cost of $100,000; in 1970- 71, 31 were imported at a cost of $116,000; and in the 8 months to February 1972, 18 were imported at a cost of $84,000. For parts for flying machines, in 1969-70, $76,489,000 was spent in 1970- 71, $38,967,000; and in the 8 months to February 1972, $19,904,000.
Those figures show the extent of the massive importations. The Government lacks strong purpose in this matter; it has failed to give the lead to local suppliers. It should insist that our own factories manufacture substantial parts for these aircraft. Over the last 10 years Australian airline operators have imported $540m worth of equipment. Qantas Airways Ltd has imported $365m worth of aircraft, TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett Airlines between them have imported $175m worth of equipment. Recently, approval has been given for the importation of 4 extra aircraft - Boeing 727-200s - by each domestic operator, at a cost of $67m. Over the years substantial sums of money have been spent on smaller aircraft which could be produced in Australia. The amount involved there has been $6m.
Retrenchments have continued. In March this year 26 more skilled workers were retrenched from the Avalon factory, lt might be appropriate to give figures showing the serious decline in employment in the industry. An aircraft manufacturer is not like a motor-car manufacturer. Employees at these plants are highly specialised workers and they ought to bc retained. They are lost to the industry if they have to leave it. Once they lose that employment, these highly skilled and well trained men get work in a more stable industry and tend not to return to the aircraft industry. That is a sensible arrangement for a worker. He will not stop in an industry in which he thinks his future is not secure. He gets no satisfaction from his work in the aircraft industry, when he does not know what the future holds for him.
In June 1965 the Government Aircraft Factories had 2,750 workers, but by June 1968 the number had fallen to 2,300 and by June 1969 to 2,000. Since then there have been smaller numbers of retrenchments. At the Avalon factory, 26 workers were retrenched in March. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, I understand, has obtained other work for them. At 1st February 1966 the factory at Avalon employed 413 persons, but by February 1967 the number had gone down to 402 and by February 1968 to 351. By 1969 the number was reduced to 286, by 1970 to 271, and by 1971 to 267. At the present time the factory has about 250 workers. One of the larger manufacturing enterprises, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, which has a record of competence and is well known in the industry, had 3,747 workers in 1967. By 1968 this number had been reduced to 3,485. by 1969 to 2,909 and by 1970 to 2,670. In 1971 the number was down to 2,047, and this year it is 1,950.
In my own State, as people know, there have been retrenchments in the industry. For example, part of the Department of Supply aircraft establishment in Salisbury was discontinued a couple of years ago. This year one of the Hawker Siddeley subsidiaries in Salisbury, very close to the Weapons Research Establishment, which is a very convenient location for an electronics manufacturer, was discontinued. We took a deputation to the Minister for Supply and we spoke to the manufacturer. We put to the Minister for Supply the proposition that the Department should feed into the subsidiary of Hawker Siddeley some extra work which would keep men in employment in South Australia. Some 200 workers have been given dismissal notices over a period. It would be very good for the State and for the industry if the Government would accede to that proposal. Strangely enough, the Minister for Supply said that nothing could be done. He said that it was not possible to give such work to the enterprise. We cannot understand this. If we have a competence in Australia, it ought to be retained. We are relying on other countries for our aircraft. Nobody can tell me that we cannot produce in our own country bits and pieces for our own aircraft. This would provide work for employees in the aircraft industry in Australia and would keep in this country huge sums of money that are being spent on imports. Enterprises such as Hawker Siddeley and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, and our own people in the Government Aircraft Factories, are enterprising as well as efficient. For example, 2 representatives of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Sir Frederick Scherger and Mr Abbott, recently went to Indonesia to see to what extent it might be possible to open up markets in that country for Australian aircraft products. They found that our own aircraft, Project N, was then receiving important consideration in Indonesia. In yesterday’s ‘Financial Review’, a statement by Mr Abbott was reported as follows:
The major problem facing general aviation was finance.
Although there was an expanding market for light aircraft - he instanced the Australian Project N concept built by the Government Aircraft Factories in Melbourne - finance and technical backup in the farm of support and manuals were essential in any gales drive.
Banks and finance houses will have to change their ideas about financing if we are to make an impact on this market. 1 refer the Minister to the assistance given by the Japanese Government to the aircraft industry in that country. Not only should the industry be backed by private finance, but it is the responsibility of the government to provide adequate financial arrangements for an industry facing severe competition and in need of assistance. Project N is a very good piece of equipment lo sell. The Government should be the first to ask how it can assist with the project.
I want to deal particularly with the position in relation to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. To me and to those who have inquired, its reports show that there is no dramatic change in the situation in that industry. It is still working in what amounts to a very low key when one considers its work force and its capacity of previous years. The Corporation points out, as do the other manufacturers, that even with projects which have been built up, whether they be small or large, preproduction planning takes as long as 12 months before the manufacturing can get into gear. Obviously what is required is a long term plan to give work to the industry. I am not saying that the Government should give CAC work which is not necessarily useful. I think it is well known without my stating it that the Service departments and the civil airline operators have requirements for units such as Project N. The Government should so organise orders that work is given to the industry. At present it is not.
I refer now to the position in relation to Project N. As honourable senators will remember, Senator Poyser and others on this side of the chamber have consistently asked when the Government intends to buy some of these aircraft. Reports about the aircraft would satisfy any expert. While I do not want to suggest thai wc should not take account of the specialists and specification requirements of the Services, it is evident that it is the type of aircraft which will sell. That has been stated by people who have seen the test flights of Project N. I think the Minister for Air has made favourable observations about it. As we all know, representatives of the French aviation industry have said that they could sell the aircraft in France. Other people who witnessed the first public demonstration in August 1971 have said that the aircraft is more than a match for a counterpart in the STOL aircraft which is currently being produced in another part of the world.
What surprises members on this side of the chamber is the fact that no Government department has yet placed a firm order for Project N. Only recently the Minister stated that the Royal Australian Air Force has not a requirement for the aircraft. He stated that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) and the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) are studying the position and that investigations are being conducted. But the investigations are taking too long. 1 put to the Senate because it has been put previously - it has been put months ago - this question: Why are not our departments which have requirements for light aircraft and which purchase and run aircraft which are necessary for their operations told by the Government to order the Project N aircraft? I know of some 10 or 12 departments which use aircraft. The Government has already spent a bit over $3m on developmental work for the aircraft. It is an exceptionally good aircraft. It would seem to me, on the expert advice of Sir Frederick Scherger and Mr Abbott, that there is a market for it in Indonesia if appropriate financial arrangements can be made. It is evident that it can be placed and used as part of our defence capacity. It is evident that arrangements might be made with France to sell the aircraft to France and that arrangements could be perfected about coproduction in respect of certain requirements. That will get the project going.
I have mentioned the reported merger of the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. I know that recently the Minister has said that the merger might not take place. One of the things I want to mention is the concern which has been shown by the staff associations - the workers in the industry - which have made representations to all parties, I believe, and to the Government. It may be useful if I quoted the submissions because the associations make sensible points which should be considered and which supplement the kind of proposition which we are putting. Their comments were prepared by the deputation to members of Parliament on 2nd February. I understand - I may be wrong - that they met all parties. In part the submission states:
Initially that is where the Opposition stands. We cannot see any reason why an effective Government enterprise whose capacity has been demonstrated amply should be submerged in any way. We believe that the real need in the aircraft industry is to give sufficient work to ensure that in our requirements and in our ordering both the Government section and the private section of the aircraft industry get the share of work which they should get.
It is clear that following debates in the Parliament the Minister for Defence and, I think, other Ministers in this place have said that they believe in a viable industry. We have been rather concerned because we felt that they did not believe in it. The scale of activity has gone down. Recently the Minister for Defence said that a relatively small but viable aircraft industry was essential in Australia and that there were some studies now being made as to the extent to which increased work might be given to the industry. I suggest that the position is getting very serious. Something more than study is necessary. It is urgent that the Government bring to a head its consideration of what aircraft it wants to replace present Service requirements. The Minister for Air is probably in a better position than most to estimate how long it would take, but it would seem that a very good stimulus would be given to the industry if the Government and the Minister in his own right or in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Defence could determine quickly some of the outstanding questions which are arising today. We know, as he reported only yesterday, that there are 6 or 8 proposals from overseas firms offering what would be suitable replacements for Australia. Some of the offers involve co-production, which would be a very suitable arrangement for Australia.
The Government has to consider not only the urgent task of giving work to the industry but also the long range requirements which will be necessary for the country. I hope that the Government will consider as urgent what I am talking about. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber are sure that there is not the note of urgency that there should be. For 2 or 3 years we have been talking about the state of the industry and we have got little or no satisfaction. We have got the acceptance of principles. We have got the Minister for Air to say that the Government believes in offset orders and in coproduction where possible. The industry wants some practical support, and it should be possible to plan for that support.
From questions I have asked and from other inquiries I have made I have ascertained that the Government even now is not insisting on co-production or office orders when it purchases aircraft or when it allows Trans-Australia Airlines or Ansett to order aircraft for the domestic industry. The Italian Government insists on that. The Australian Government is not like the Italian Government, which says: ‘If you supply the aircraft we want to produce a certain amount of it’. It is only on that basis that the Italian Government takes the aircraft. If the Italian Air Force wants a special type of aircraft produced in Italian factories the Italian Government pays all the costs of development. The situation in Sweden is similar. Recently I had the pleasure of seeing the Saab aircraft factory in Sweden. Sweden must be a perfect example for Australia to follow - a small country competing with the great countries in the production of an effective aircraft at a low cost. In that country, of course, the Government so backs the aircraft industry that the industry can pay for developmental costs.
As 1 mentioned earlier, our offset complements are very small. Little by little, over a period of about 14 months, we have built up a small amount of offset work. The total amount of work in this field is made up of small amounts from $50,000 to $600,000. As I have pointed out. we are importing over a period of 10 years aircraft worth nearly $600m. But all we are getting out of this sort of deal is minor work. Up to now we have never received any substantial aircraft frame work. We were doing some fibreglass work for window frames and so on. Now we are getting some air frame work, but we are not getting enough. I suggest that the Government ought to show clearly a continuing interest in this matter.
Let rae quote some of the things which Ministers belatedly have said. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) has repeatedly said that he believes in a viable aircraft industry. However, he has yet to recognise that there is a need to establish an industry of this kind for Australia. The ‘Australian Defence Review’ which has just been issued states at paragraph 31:
Where the cost makes production in Australia uneconomic, opportunity should be sought for Australian industry to participate in a coproduction or reciprocal purchasing arrangement with the overseas supplier. The extent to which these opportunities are converted to contracts will depend very largely on the enterprise and competitiveness of our industry. The Government has Already negotiated with the United States and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom and other large suppliers of defence equipment, such opportunities for Australian industry.
If negotiations have been carried out on that basis what surprises me is why the bill is not larger, and why the Government Aircraft Factories and the other 2 main Australian producers are not getting the volume of work which would satisfy them and keep them going.
I have referred to the example of Italy where the Italian Government and Italian air force have a hard fisted policy which we might well adopt. Also I have referred to Sweden. While it is true that Australian air force specifications have to be met, it seems to me that what the Swedish Government has proposed to Australia might be considered. At least the Minister should be able to tell us why the Swedish aircraft is not going to be accepted or why other types may not be accepted.
Let me come back to the point that was made by Mr Abbott, the Manager of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, about assistance to the industry. This has been mentioned here before, but I mention it again. What the Government ought to bc doing - because certainly a Labor government will do it - is to make sure that financial assistance is provided when we have the ability to produce aircraft of the type required for the market here. The Government should make sure that these aircraft can be properly and easily produced. I refer to something which is perhaps more basic than that. For many years we have been producing highly sophisticated defence requirements, including aircraft. 1 think we are just settling down to acceptance of the notion that we might be suited to produce such equipment. Our private manufacturers now are going out to see to what extent they can sell smaller aircraft to adjoining countries. It seems to me that we ought to be rethinking the sort of rat race psychology in which we are engaging and we keep buying aircraft which are just off the production line.
In this connection I want to mention an important statement made by Sir Henry Bland in September 1970, some time after he retired from his important post as Secretary of the Department of Defence. As honourable senators know, before he held that position he was the Secretary of the
Department of Labour and National Service. Sir Henry talked about the sophisticated requirements that we have in Australia.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cant) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Bishop, in opening for the Opposition, referred to the Australian Labor Party’s concern for what he speaks of as the general uncertainty about the future of the Australian aircraft industry. He went on to speak of the fears of his Party and those who work in the industry of further retrenchments. He asked why “we are importing huge quantities of what he calls ‘pieces of equipment’. Let me say straightaway to Senator Bishop and to all those listening that it is the expressed intention of the Commonwealth Government that a viable and effective defence aircraft industry should be maintained in Australia and that the industry should develop with the country’s needs.
What are the needs of the country? Let me say immediately that over the years we have purchased about 1,300 aircraft. Of that total we have made about 1,000 aircraft locally. In addition we have endeavoured to give the industry orders for pieces of equipment - to use Senator Bishop’s term - and only recently an Australian manufacturer was awarded a contract against overseas and Australian competition for 100 automatic direction finding systems for the Macchi trainer. Up to that stage there had been very little development in Australia in the area of what might be called advanced military avionics. The placement of this order undoubtedly will stimulate this type of manufacture in Australia. This must be the result. The factories producing this piece of equipment will have something which has not been produced before and the expertise of the workmen involved on the contract must be improved.
I think the Opposition’s suggestion that the Government has failed to safeguard the Australian aircraft industry is invalid. Let us have a look at the situation. We have 3 major contractors in this country, namely, the Government Aircraft Factories, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd. Along with other lesser contractors, these factories employ about 7,000 men. I believe that the industry is one of the more important employers of labour in Australia. When we look at the factories individually wc see that the 3 main ones employ the following numbers of staff: The Government Aircraft Factories about 1,990 men; the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, I understand, about 1,950; and Hawker De Havilland, I believe, about 1,700 employees. This means that the balance of 1,360 men are employed in the other 5 factories.
Senator Bishop spoke of retrenchments. One regrets that retrenchments do occur, but the honourable senator knows as well as I do that the industry is characterised by ups and downs in employment. These ups and downs are in a way unavoidable because the industry is dependent .on work load levels which in turn are dependent on defence orders. Recently we had the situation where the Government, through its policy of continually endeavouring to stabilise the work load in the industry, directed certain defence projects. However, I will deal with them a little later. Senator Bishop went on to refer to some of the retrenchments of more recent times. From information supplied to mc I find that 10 mechanical tradesmen and 6 electrical tradesmen were issued with retrenchment notices as late as 7th April of this year. Retrenchment notices were issued also to 6 electrical tradesmen at the Fishermen’s Bend plant, but a review of the situation enabled those latter notices to be withdrawn. This review also brought to light the fact that the management could offer employment at Fishermen’s Bend to 8 of the 10 mechanical tradesmen under notice of retrenchment at Avalon. Four of these personnel have accepted the positions offered to them. The fifth was found upon interview to be unsuitable for the work available and the remaining 3 men declined the offer. Endeavours are being made to overcome this problem. We recognise the problem but, as I said, it is dependent on the work load and the work load is dependent, in the main, upon the demand.
Let us look at the importance of this industry and its magnitude. In this financial year, 1971-72, the value of the work load for the industry for the 3 main organisations which I have mentioned exceeded $40m. The Opposition’s doubts about the future of the industry are not reflected in the confidence held by the Government and by the industry in respect of works capitalisation. When we look at this situation we must remember, for example, that the value of Commonwealth owned land, buildings, services and plant used in this industry amounts to about $24m while privately owned investment in the same categories totals a further $16m. This amounts to a total capital investment in the industry of well over $40m. I would describe the aircraft industry as a growth industry. But it is important to understand that recognition must be given to the fact that by its nature, as I said before, it is subject to troughs and peaks. Obviously, in time of war and during periods of reequipment by the Services the industry booms. Then, in the intervening period, the industry slackens. So we have a situation in which some men have to be stood down.
The industry is going through one of these troughs and this is why the Government is doing everything possible to try to obtain offset orders. We had a situation in which 110 Mirage aircraft were built under the Mirage programme. We also had the Macchi programme. The Mirage programme has been completed and the Macchi programme is drawing to an end. So the work load of those 2 programmes has dropped off considerably. However, these aircraft that 1 have mentioned will be replaced and other aircraft have to be introduced into the industry. Earlier this week Senator .Bishop asked me about the replacement of the Mirage aircraft and the Winjeel aircraft. I said in reply at that time that the Air Staff Requirement had been issued to the interested companies stating the requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force for the Mirage replacement. I indicated that up to date we had received proposals from 3 companies, one of which was the SAAB company which manufacturers the Viggen aircraft about which the honourable senator spoke. That company has already put proposals before the Department of Air. I expect a further 3 or 4 proposals to be put to the Department.
The Department of Air must carry out an evaluation of each of these aircraft in regard to its performance and to see whether it meets the requirements of the RAAF and Australian conditions. Above all, proposals must contain offset orders for Australian manufacturers. A study of this will take some time. As I pointed out, although we called for the Air Staff Requirement some time ago we have only 3 firm proposals before us. We are waiting for more. In the case of the replacement for the Winjeel aircraft, we have received a number of firm proposals. The list is now reduced to 3 or 4 proposals which must be evaluated on the basis of their meeting RAAF requirements and the Government’s requirement that they shall contain a fair percentage of offset orders.
This is the sort of position that we face at the present time. Recently, we had the announcement to which 1 think Senator Bishop referred. That was in respect of the placement of offset orders in Australia not only for Service aircraft but also for the purchase, assembly, maintenance and manufacture of parts for civilian aircraft. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), in conjunction with the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland), on 14th April announced that an agreement had been reached with the Boeing company for offset manufacture in Australia of nearly $3m worth of spare parts for Boeing 727 civil airliners. This agreement provides for the manufacture locally of rudders, elevators and inspar ribs by Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd and the Government Aircraft Factories. These new contracts bring the total value of offset work being undertaken in Australia for the Boeing company to approximately $7m. Perhaps the Opposition will say that it is not enough. But it is vital work that we are able to obtain at this time during this trough period.
The contracts previously signed with these companies and with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation include not only those components which I have mentioned for the Boeing 727 aircraft but also windows, flap gear boxes for the Boeing 747 aircraft and various machined parts for both the Boeing 727 and 747 aircraft. It is worthy of mention that Australia is now the sole source of supply for rudders, elevators and inspar ribs for the Boeing 727 aircraft. If we can build on this sort of policy I believe we will have some future in the aircraft industry. I believe this is a very commendable effort and it speaks highly not only of the Government’s policy but also of the competence and the capacity of the local industry. As I -indicated previously, it is the stated policy of the Government to maintain a small but viable and effective aircraft industry in Australia. The Government and my Department, together with the RAAF, give heavy support to this industry because they recognise that aircraft production and, indeed, all Australian industry must in times of emergency provide many weapons, ammunition, equipment and supplies needed to sustain the defence of this country. Two benefits flow from RAAF support of the rapidly growing and highly skilled industrial complex in this country. Firstly, without an efficient local industry there would be no capacity to develop sophisticated weapons and equipment, nor would we have highly skilled experts to assist in the maintenance of this equipment. I think that it is axiomatic that a strong industry is vitally necessary for the defence of Australia. But it cannot remain strong unless it receives the constant stimulus of defence orders. This is where the catch is.
If honourable senators look at past and present policy they will find that on every occasion since World War II when aircraft have been required in sufficient numbers to justify tooling up in Australia the local industry has been allotted the task of manufacturing those aircraft. It is well to recall to the Senate the aircraft and the aeroengines that have been manufactured in the past in Australia under licence. These include the Canberra bombers, the Sabre fighters, the Vampire fighters, the Vampire trainers, the Mirage fighters, the Mirage trainers and the Macchi trainer programme that is just being completed.
Looking at the engine situation, we find that Australia has manufactured the Nene, the Avon, the A tar and Viper engines. In addition, attention must be drawn to the fact that Australian designed projects allotted to the industry include a number of other projects. I speak of the Jindivik pilotless target aircraft, the Winjeel trainers, the Malkara anti-tank weapon and the Ikara anti-submarine weapon. I would be remiss, I believe, if 1 did not say that a great deal of effort has gone into developing new projects to provide a workload for the industry.
Let us examine some of these projects of which I speak. We have the light observation helicopter. The military requirement for these aircraft is 75, spread over a long period. Such a programme would not have permitted long production on an effective basis because the programme had to be drawn out over a long period. But, in an effort to achieve an acceptable programme for the local industry, tenders were called on the basis that 116 civilian aircraft would be manufactured at the same time in Australia.
I turn to the Ikara missile. Approval has been given to an effort to achieve overseas sales for the Ikara anti-submarine weapons system. An announcement was made only recently that, as a result of these efforts, the Ikara missile has been purchased by Brazil and orders worth approximately $20m to local industry are now in hand or are expected. This surely is a highly commendable effort that reflects the worth of our aircraft industry.
Again, there is the project Turana. The Turana is a small target drone based on the Ikara system and has been adopted by the Royal Australian Navy. After successful research and development by local industry, the first small production run of Turana is about to be commenced. There has been considerable interest overseas in Turana and its prospects in that direction I understand are regarded as promising.
Finally, but by no means least, I would examine the Project N development. Project N is the current title given to a design project undertaken by the industry for a light multi-purpose fixed-wing aircraft with high short take-off and landing characteristics. The Government has approved an expenditure of over $4m on the design stage which involves manufacture of 2 flying prototypes, a test airframe and certain other work. Both prototypes have achieved all design expectations and the performance of the aircraft has attracted a great deal of interest. Senator Bishop made the point that I had inspected and sat in the aircraft. On returning to the Senate after that inspection, ] was asked a question about Project N. 1 expressed great in I west in it and said that because of its characteristics I believed it had a future in civil use in Australia. Its characteristics are most adaptable to conditions in this country. Whether or not the production
Stage of the aircraft should be recommended for approval is now under examination in the defence group of departments and can be expected to be considered by Ministers in the near future. The project has provided valuable work for the design team in the Government Aircraft Factories at Fishermen’s Bend.
In discussing the Australian aircraft industry it should be noted that a very important source of potential workload for the industry is reciprocal purchasing agreements. The Government has made it known to the overseas aerospace industries receiving orders for Australia’s military and civil requirements that reciprocal purchasing opportunities are expected. I can tell the Senate that participation by overseas firms in this programme is increasing. Special machinery has been set up by the Government to facilitate participation in these opportunities. This includes an inter-departmental committee, consisting of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Defence and the Department of Supply, and a committee of industry experts. To date, as I mentioned, orders worth $7m have been won. The work is highly competitive and, although only mildly successful to date, the programme is proving to be of particular value to the industry because of its challenge lo management skills and new manufacturing techniques involved.
A current trend of some significance to the Australian aircraft industry is that towards collaborative programmes between two or more countries requiring an aircraft of particular performance. This trend could bc said to be generated by the ever increasing sophistication of aircraft accompanied by extremely high design and development costs. It is regarded as important that opportunities should be developed for the local industry to participate in such programmes. If the industry has a problem, it is securing workloads suitable to its capacities and skills. The industry, of course, is heavily dependent on defence orders for its workload. For example, in the 1970-71 financial year, the RAAF spent 74 per cent of its budget of $303m in Australia and the remaining 26 per cent overseas, including expenditure for the maintenance of squadrons and units in Malaysia and Vietnam. Of the money spent overseas, 75 per cent was for aircraft equipment and stores. For the first quarter of the current financial year the percentage of local expenditure is slightly higher. To the end of September 1971, the respective percentages were 77 per cent in Australia and 23 per cent overseas.
The extent to which contractural payments fall due early in the year has some affect at this juncture. In Australia, major contractors and suppliers to the RAAF total almost 200, while suppliers on a small scale run into hundreds more. I would mention also that, to ensure that the maximum number of orders is placed locally, the procurement of products from overseas is constantly reviewed. If the Service has been forced to order a product overseas because of unavailability in Australia, the next lime it has to be purchased reference is again made to local industry. If the product has since been developed and manufactured locally, then local industry is given every consideration. The RAAF provides a workload for the Australian aircraft industry because of its requirement for support from the industry in 2 major areas, namely, engineering and maintenance. On maintenance, service and engineering support the RAAF alone has spent $1 1.5m this year in the aircraft industry. I should explain that the engineering support includes the design and development of aircraft repair schemes, the design, development and manufacture of modifications, the manufacture of spare parts and the provision of technical services. The latter includes the provision and maintenance of drawings and technical data, investigations of defects and advice and assistance on many aircraft engineering subjects.
The annual cost of these technical services is in excess of $l.lm. Maintenance includes servicing, repair, overhaul and incorporation of modifications to airframes, engines and aeronautical equipment, which embraces airframe accessories, engine accessories, instruments, electrical, radio, electronic and armament equipment and weapons systems. Maintenance work at depot level allotted to industry represents the following proportions of the RAAF depot level arisings: Airframes, 50 per cent; aircraft accessories, 81 per cent; ground telecommunication equipment, 78 per cent; and ground support equipment, 68 per cent. At present, all aircraft engines are allotted to industry for major repair and overhaul. It is intended to overhaul the Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engines of the Fi 1 1 aircraft within our own service, but even then the proportion of engines allotted to industry will exceed 95 per cent.
With a view to achieving a more effective industry, consideration is being given to the possibility of rationalising the facilities of the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd which operate alongside each other at Fishermen’s Bend. A joint Department of Supply and CAC report on the possibility of merging the 2 organisations was received by the Minister for Supply and the Board of CAC in late February. Senator Bishop has referred to it. That report is now receiving interdepartmental consideration. The report has given rise to a wider study of the possible alternatives for the aircraft industry as a whole, such as embracing the Sydney segment operated by Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd at Bankstown and Lidcombe. There is no doubt that rationalisation of the industry overall is necessary if it is to be placed on an effective basis. An important source of the potential workload for the local industry is overseas aerospace organisations through reciprocal purchasing opportunities and collaborative programmes. As announced by the Minister for Supply on 4th April-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cant) - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the urgency motion moved by Senator Bishop this afternoon, which relates to the failure of the Government to safeguard the future of the Australian aircraft industry. A similar debate to this was held some 2i years ago when the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), then the Minister for Supply, replied on behalf of the Government. One could say that the speech which he made on that occasion has been re-read on this occasion. We have heard the old cliches about the Government expressing the intention of establishing a viable aircraft industry in this country. The troughs that have been spoken of over the last 2i years have become deeper and deeper. They are becoming so deep now that we on this side of the Senate are gravely concerned that there will not be a proper recovery of the industry unless some drastic action is taken in the very near future.
When one examines the histories of countries that have been able to establish viable aircraft industries, large and small, one sees that the experts in those industries have a formula upon which a viable aircraft industry can and should be established. I refer to an article which appeared in ‘Flight International’ on 28th October 1971 and which was written by a gentleman named J. M. Ramsden. The article was entitled France’s Aircraft Industry’. A number of experts have been quoted in this article in relation to the methods by which the French aircraft industry was re-established as from 1945. A statement by M. Adenot is reported in the article, which reads:
One of the secrets of success is long term planning. All budgets for the next five years, project by project, are published. ‘Because of the long development cycles in aerospace it is very beneficial for the industry to have the discipline of the long term plan. It has produced good aircraft’. The priorities and budgets are settled in consultation with the industry, the Services and the workers. Everyone knows what is expected of him, and - just as important - ‘the industry knows that the money is prescribed in the law’.
This is a basic condition which should be applied by the Australian Government to ensure that this viable industry has some continuity of development rather than the system we have adopted over the last 8 to 10 years or more, in which we get peak production and employ up to 8,000 or 9,000 people in the industry, as we did during the Mirage project, and then halve that figure within 2 years of that project being ceased. We went to the great trouble of sending people to the United Kingdom to recruit top grade artisans in the field of aircraft production who were told verbally by the recruiters, on behalf of the Department of Supply, that they would have continuity of employment in this country if they chose to leave the aircraft industry in England and come here as migrants and work within the industry in this country.
What do we find? After the Mirage project was completed these persons received their dismissal notices. Those who were at Avalon in Victoria have had to sell the homes they purchased in the Lara district and move, perhaps, to Melbourne or Sydney to try to obtain some other employment in the industry they know. Many to whom I have talked have said that, irrespective of the future of the industry and irrespective of the undertakings they get from the present Government, they have no intention of returning to the industry in this country. So, what will we do if we reach the stage where we have another project such as the Mirage aircraft or, belatedly, move into production on Project N? Will we again be going to the United Kingdom and seeking recruits in order to establish again an industry that we have established on at least 4 occasions - an industry that is skilful and capable of high class work? Will we again be in the same position of having the expense and the trials and tribulations of going to the United Kingdom and seeking recruits? So, we have had this lack of continuity throughout the ‘ history of the industry since the Second World War. In the article to which I referred earlier there is another very brief comment from another expert in relation to the French industry, which is very pertinent to the subject we are discussing today. The article reports M. Ravaud as saying:
Above all you must have the political will and the technical and industrial policy. Everything else is pure speech.
This statement underlines the remarks that I have made so far. We tire of hearing the Government talk about the future when we have the ability right now to establish an industry which could become viable and have some continuity. The offset orders which the Minister mentioned are valuable indeed, but, as he predicted, we say that they are insufficient to give the kind of continuity and the kinds of skills that we must maintain in this country if the industry is to be kept on a profitable footing.
I turn now lo the question of Project N which has been discussed previously in this debate by Senator Bishop and the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). Because of the procrastination on the part of the Government in relation to this venture we could well find that within 12 months another country - perhaps France, perhaps Canada - will beat us to the world markets, although we have a product that everybody is completely confident can be sold on world markets. Already .some investigations and approaches have been made, I believe from France, to purchase some of these aircraft. There have been inquiries from Indonesia and there have been inquiries from at least one South American country. Does the Government think that these countries will order a plane which is at the testing stage, as this plane is at the moment, when the Commonwealth Government has not shown sufficient confidence in it to place any orders at all. The Minister has indicated that some S4m already has been invested in the development of this aircraft. Another $4m could pui it into production, and sufficient aircraft could be produced to enable the price at which it can be sold on the world markets to be ascertained clearly and properly. 1 am absolutely confident that we can do it. In any event, if the Government has been prepared to gamble $4m on its development, why will it not, if necessary, gamble another $4m to try to establish the industry on a proper basis. I believe we have an aircraft that could be sold in many countries because of its characteristics which are suitable for STOL activities. This type of aircraft would be ideal in New Guinea where there are short runways in many areas. It may be that we even could give the Papua New Guinea Administration 4 or 5 of these aircraft as an example of the type of production that we have in this country. These aircraft could be most useful in this field. This type of aircraft could be used by the District Commissioners in their work. It could be used as a small passenger aircraft or as a small freight aircraft. 1 have seen the aircraft in action and I have seen it tested at Avalon in conditions under which it had not been tested before. It was tested in very heavy grass after severe rain, and on that occasion the aircraft came through the test with flying colours. At that time, which was in February, it had done more than 300 hours in test flights. No doubt it has done many more hours since.
I think if we examine this whole matter properly we will find that one of the major reasons why the Services have not as yet placed any orders for the aircraft is that there is an internal battle being waged within the Service departments. Perhaps the battle is not in relation to their requirements, because I understand that the Army would be happy with this type of aircraft, but it is in relation to whether the Royal Australian Air Force or the Army will fly it. It is not a matter of whether it is a suitable aircraft; it is an internal argument. So we have this procrastination, this bickering, and an industry may go down the drain simply because once again we are’ too late. By the time the Government takes any action the world markets will not be open to us because we will have been beaten to them. As Senator Bishop indicated earlier, even if an order is placed today it will be 12 months before the aircraft can go into production, and that 12 months is very valuable time. I have spoken to the top men we have in the industry and they have shown grave concern about the fact that we may be beaten to the markets of the world with an aircraft which they believe will be readily saleable.
I shall now deal with the matter that was discussed in the latter part of the Minister’s speech; that is, rationalisation of the industry. It is contemplated that the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd will amalgamate. We on this side of the House believe that if there is to be a rationalisation of the industry in that manner the Government must have the predominant say in the industry on matters concerned with defence, because, as I understand the situation, GAF owns something like 70 per cent of the total assets of the industry and CAC owns 30 per cent. One can be excused for thinking perhaps that the troughs in production by the industry - this relates particularly to GAF - are designed to ensure that when this amalgamation does take place we will be about even steven and the value of our industry will have dropped. Indeed, I saw a short article quite recently in the ‘Financial Review’ which seemed to indicate that overseas interests are interested in an amalgamation of the 2 sections of Australia’s aircraft industry. No doubt CAC at least has been talking to overseas interests about buying it out so that these overseas interests can enter the aircraft industry in this country.
Associated with that was a suggestion which would be of some value to the industry if carried out by the Government, that is, to transfer the whole of the industry to an area such as Avalon. In the short term it may seem to be a very expensive operation but in long term the industry would be in an area close to an excellent airfield. In fact, it is a top grade airfield. It would be in an area where it should receive plenty of work. Indeed, it could become a very modern industry in its own right. This is a long term proposition which may be looked at, but I do not believe that the interests of the Australian people, the interests of the industry itself or the interests of the defence of this country can be served if we have the kind of amalgamation which is suggested, namely, that it would be on the basis that a private industry would have at least equal say in its operation. This type of situation is not good for the defences of this country. So I ask the Senate to carry the motion as an expression of the dissatisfaction of the Senate in the manner in which the Government has procrastinated in the development of this industry. It is not true to say, as has been indicated by the Minister, that everything in the garden will be rosy in the future, unless we have in full production an aircraft of our own. We have the aircraft. It has been tested. We have the ability to produce it and we should go ahead with it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I note that apparently there is some agreement on both sides of the chamber as to the desirability of having in Australia a viable aircraft industry. It is the stated policy of the Government that we should maintain a small but viable and effective aircraft industry in Australia, but it seems to me that the Opposition should try to define what it means by ‘viable’. This is important, if I understood Senator Poyser correctly, he wants an industry which is producing some type of aircraft at al! times, whether or not here is a demand for it. I understand that this is what he means by viable. I question the economic viability of an industry which is producing just for the sake of producing. There is a need for an aircraft industry in Australia but not just for the sake of having it. This is what we mean by viable and effective. The industry has to be economically effective within reason.
When one criticises the lack of continuity in orders, when one criticises the troughs and peaks in the aircraft industry in Australia, one should bc prepared to agree also that this is not common to Australia. Throughout the world today there are grave economic and financial problems in the aircraft industry. They have affected the great aircraft manufacturers in the United States of America - organisations such as Douglas, Lockheed and Boeing. Indeed, they have affected the Rolls Royce organisation in the United Kingdom. These problems are not found only in Australia. It is very easy to talk loosely about continuity but other countries are having continuity problems also. When we talk about continuity, what do we mean? I would like to hear what Opposition senators mean. It is all very well to produce an aircraft but there has to be a need for it.
– Our imports are terrific, as you know. We are paying for them.
– The importation of aircraft is an interesting point and perhaps we should look at it. If we are going to manufacture every aircraft that we want in Australia-
– That is not the argument.
– I am not saying that that is your proposition. But if we are to manufacture every aircraft in Australia we will need the through put to make the industry an economic proposition. I wonder what aircraft we are buying, except those in the smaller range, for which there would be sufficient through put to justify production in Australia. Certainly there has been such justification for the Mirage, the Macchi, the Canberra and other aircraft which we have built here. There is a plan to build here light observation helicopters, of which the Royal Australian Air Force requires 75, I think, but in order to have a suitable and acceptable programme the industry has called tenders for the manufacture of 116 civil aircraft. I notice that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) presented some interesting figures when speaking to a similar motion in the other place on 1st March. He quoted figures which showed that the cost of producing these helicopters in Australia would be 41 per cent higher than the cost at which we could import them. A serious cost factor is involved but in trying to maintain a viable industry the Government is prepared, quite rightly, to pay a cost 41 per cent higher than the cost involved in importing the aircraft from overseas. This is important, particularly when we are talking about manufacturing aircraft other than military aircraft.
We have heard a great deal about the aircraft known as Project N. Senator Poyser spoke about it at some length and I think that some of his statements are open to challenge. It is all very well to say that an aircraft flies well. It is all very well to say, as did Senator Bishop, that there is evidence from people who have seen the test flights of this aircraft to indicate that this is the aircraft we want. I suggest that there are other criteria besides the fact that it flies well. One criterion is whether there is a demand for it. It is all very well to say that the defence forces should have it. But do they want it? Is it the type of aircraft required by the Army or by the Air Force? At the moment I understand that an evaluation is being made to determine whether it is the type of aircraft for which there is a slot in our armed forces. Surely it would be a pretty uneconomic proposition to produce an aircraft which we do not want. It may well be that there is an overseas demand for Project N. If so, we have no problem if we can sell it in sufficient numbers overseas. But we have to know the cost of manufacturing this aircraft because surely there will be competition on the world market. The French, the Indonesians or anybody else will not buy them simply because we make them if there are other aircraft of a similar type available at a cheaper cost. All these factors have to be considered. We can talk very loosely about being able to sell these aircraft.
– You said that about the car industry.
– I think that is the worst industry that the honourable senator could refer to. Goodness me, we had some speeches on the tariff and our car industry some years ago. I would not say too much about that subject, if I were the honourable senator. I hope we do not get to the stage where our aircraft industry has to close down, as some sectors of the car industry are closing down simply because they cannot sell the cars that are produced. These are factors which any responsible government has to take into account.
Senator Poyser said that we have the ability right now to establish a viable industry based on Project N. I suggest that this is not a terribly responsible statement to make. We all hope that we will have an industry but any responsible government, before spending large sums of the taxpayers money, must be certain that this aircraft is, firstly, required in Australia, and secondly, that there is an overseas market for it. Nothing could be more tragic for the aircraft industry than to start producing this aircraft and then find, after tooling up, that we do not have the orders to maintain the production. It is all very well to say that the Government should take risks but risks such as this, as apparently advocated by Senator Poyser, in the long term, or in the short term, would cause tremendous damage to the aircraft industry. It would no longer be the viable and effective industry that we all want to see.
Senator Poyser went on to say that there is some dispute in the defence Services as to who will fly the aircraft and that therefore a decision about it has been delayed. In order to put the record straight I think I should quote from the speech made by the Minister for Defence on 1st March when he answered the allegation made in some sections of the Press about what he termed the so-called fight going on between the RAAF and the Army about who is to fly this aircraft. The Minister categorically denied that this was happening. He said:
I can assure the House that there is no fight of any sort because no decision has been made as to whether the aircraft will go into production.
He went on to explain the situation in greater detail. I suggest it is not accurate, in view of the Minister’s statement, to say that production is being delayed because of some inter-service rivalry. A minor point made by Senator Poyser should be corrected. He said that the aircraft he saw in flight had been flown for some 300 hours. In that same speech the Minister for Defence said:
One first flew last winter and, by the beginning of February, had done about 70 hours flying. The second prototype had done about 30 hours flying.
– It has now done 202 hours.
– I am corrected by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman); the aircraft has now done 202 hours. I was quoting the figures given in the speech made by the Minister for Defence. The later figure of 202 hours is much closer to 300 hours so I accept that point. Nevertheless, the aircraft has not yet been certified by the Department of Civil Aviation. The Minister for Defence has assured the Parliament that the aircraft is being evaluated and I think, from memory, that the evaluation will be complete at the end of the month. Then the defence forces will be in the position of being able to say whether this aircraft is suitable for their needs. It seems to me to be fairly irresponsible to urge that it be purchased before a proper valuation is made. One of the problems which we face and which I have already mentioned briefly is that at the moment we are in a trough. We have just completed the Mirage programme and the Macchi programme is nearly completed. With the completion of those programmes, there are no further requirements by the armed forces for a military aircraft. Unless we rush into the Project N there are no aircraft construction programmes which we can undertake. I think this explains in simple terms that the Government is not idle. Indeed, it has been studying this matter over a number of years and it has had some success.
It is all very well to deride offset orders. They are not inconsiderable. The prospects are that we will be able to obtain more and more offset orders. Already in recent times we have reached agreement on new offset orders or contracts worth almost $3m. These are against government purchases of aircraft from the Boeing Company. These contracts involve the manufacture in Australia of rudders, elevators and inspar ribs for Boeing 727 aircraft. We also have contracts which were previously signed with these companies and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd not only for components but also for windows, flap gearboxes for the Boeing 747 aircraft, and miscellaneous machined parts for both the 707 and 747 aircraft. Australia is now the sole source of supply for rudders, elevators and inspar ribs for Boeing 727 aircraft. As the result of a mission which went overseas in November-December 1971 to seek orders from the French aeronautical industry a contract valued at $554,000 has been received for engine components and turbine blades. Negotiations for further orders from the French aircraft industry are being actively pursued.
We are also vitally interested in what are known as reciprocal purchasing arrangements. The Government has made it known to overseas aerospace industries receiving orders for Australian military and civil requirements that reciprocal purchasing opportunities are expected. Special machinery has been set up by the Government to facilitate participation in these opportunities. An interdepartmental committee representing the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Defence, the Department of Supply and a committee of industry experts is involved. To date orders worth some $7m have been obtained. I could go on dealing with other actions taken by the Government to obtain not only offset orders but also reciprocal purchasing arrangements and other arrangements which will provide more work for our aircraft industry. I think that in a responsible way the Government is doing everything it can to ensure that in Australia we have a viable, small but effective aircraft industry.
Sitting suspended from 5.49 to 8.00 p.m. (Quorum formed.)
– It is the oft repeated claim of the Government that its policy is to maintain a small, viable aircraft industry. This was stated in October last by the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) when there was a debate on a subject such as the one we are debating today, and it was repeated by the Minister today. But, he says, it is in the nature of the aircraft industry that it is characterised by unavoidable peaks and troughs. At the same time he admits that work levels in the industry are largely dependent on defence orders. This is really an admission that the Government does not have a coherent, continuing defence policy, but that in this, as in other spheres, it procedes in fits and starts. The Minister admits that the industry is at present going through a trough, but, to quote his inimitable jargon, endeavours are being made to overcome the problem’. This, of course, is one of those delightfully vague phrases that are used to fob off criticism, and it raises the question why there is any need for troughs at all.
We know, of course, as everybody knows, that aircraft become obsolete and have to be replaced by more modern aircraft. But does there have to be a hiatus in this process? Why is it not possible for a Government with foresight to plan and be ready to proceed wilh production of an aircraft coincidental with the cessation of production of another aircraft? An interesting case in point is the Project N, which has been referred to by earlier speakers. As was pointed out, Project N is a short take-off and landing light-utility turbo-prop aircraft capable of carrying about 13 passengers. It is the first wholly designed and built aircraft in the past 20 years.
On 21st December last the ‘Australian’ newspaper carried a story purporting to claim that some of the design staff of the Project N aircraft had resigned from the Government Aircraft Factories in Melbourne, and that more resignations were imminent. This story said there were about 60 members in the Project N team and officials there were concerned that unless the Federal Government soon gave the green light for production of the turboprop aircraft, a fair proportion of the team would resign. The manager of the Government Aircaft Factories, Mr Churcher, was quoted as saying:
This must be regarded as serious. The morale of the. professional team and workers is low. If for some reason the Project N production programme is not approved by the Government it will be serious for GAF and for the whole of the aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia.
Yet today the Minister states that although the 2 prototypes of this aircraft have been tested and found satisfactory, the Government has not yet committed itself to production of the aircraft. We on this side, as indeed anybody else who is following this subject, must ask the question, why not? Why does the industry have to sink into a trough? Why are skilled men dispersed through frustration because the Government in this, as in everything else, takes a long while to make up its mind?
On 12th February this year the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported that the Army was seeking Federal Government approval to buy between 25 and 34 military versions of the Australian designed and manufactured Project N aircraft. The report went on to state that deliveries would be made over a number of years. It described the plane in the way I have already described it, and mentioned that it had a potential military and civil use and that it had beendeveloped by the Government Aircraft Factories in Melbourne. The report stated further:
Failure of the Government to order a production run has been causing great concern in the local aircraft industry which is desperate for orders.
The main reason for the delay has been the reluctance of the Federal Treasury to approve more expenditure on the Project N until certificates of airworthiness have been issued for two machines now under tests. The Treasury also has been demanding evidence of the economics of the project, both from a military and commercial aspect.
At present the cost of each aircraft to the Army could range from $250,000 to $400,000 depending greatly on the number of outside orders.
The Army’s decision, that it needs the aircraft to carry troops and supplies from short and rough runways should have a big influence on any Government decision to go ahead.
Last December, the Minister for Defence, Mr Fairbairn, said interest dad been shown in the aircraft by local and overseas companies and also by a number of Government departments which use light aircraft.
There have been reports since of more overseas interest in the Project N, notably from France.
Today the Minister states that although the 2 prototypes have been tested and found satisfactory, the Government has not yet committed itself to production of the aircraft. Again, we ask, why not? Why does the industry have to sink into this trough before anything is done? At a time when the Government talks of stimulating the economy, why does it have to dither on this decision? Is it perhaps because there is some disagreement between the Ministers - between the Minister who has spoken today and the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn).
Another matter, to which I have not heard any reference today, is the HS1182 jet trainer that has been adopted by the Royal Air Force. On 30th October last the London Financial Times’ carried a story from its Australian editor under the title Facing a crucial decision’. In part it reads:
Within two months, the Australian Government must make a decision that is important not only to the future of the Royal Australian Air Force’s requirements in jet trainers, but one which is crucial for the Australian aircraft industry.
The Government has before it a proposal from Hawker de Havilland, the wholly-owned off-shoot of Hawker Siddeley, that it should join now in a joint manufacturing programme for the HS 1182 jet trainer that has been adopted by the Royal Air Force, though the aircraft design has yet to be settled in detail.
The offer is one of collaboration m manufacture on the basis of the Australian end making some parts for the jet trainer, and also assembling, so that Australia would eventually produce about one-third of the known requirements of the British Government and, if the jet is adopted as the future trainer for the RAAF, of the local requirement. In total this would be about 250 aircraft. More important, the Australians would also have marketing rights for South East Asia for the aircraft, which can be used for combat.
The Australian Government has long maintained that it wants to see a local aircraft industry flourish. Yet at present it is the very lack of government orders which is slowly choking the 3 aircraft manufacturers - Hawker, the privately owned Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the Government owned Government Aircraft Factory. Apart from a few Mirage jets, there has not been any major aircraft programme in Australia since the last Vampire rolled out of the Hawker factory in 1960.
The report also states: lt is not known just how much capital the Government will be required to find to join in the HS 1182 programme, but it is not considered to be great. It is known that the defence authorities here favour the HS 1182 and would want to follow the British decision. It is also a known fact that many South East Asian orders would follow once Australia made this choice, and they are attracted to the dual trainer-combat prospects of the HS 1182.
The report concludes:
The difficulty facing the Government is heightened by political and social problems raised by the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, and the planned run-down that will follow. But politics and social decisions apart, the simple fact is that for the Australian aviation industry, Hawker De Havilland’s proposals are important. On present thinking and planning, it offers the only tangible plan to keep the industry alive in what has become a make or break situation.
That sounds like the kind of proposition in which the Government should be interested not only as a defence proposition but as a stimulus to our lagging local aircraft industry. Can the Minister say whether the report which I have just quoted is an accurate report? If so, if the project has been considered, what decision has been arrived at? If the report is not accurate, can he tell us whether there are any comparable projects under consideration? What the industry and the Opposition want is a clear cut Government statement of its intentions for the industry, no waffling political jargon such as ‘endeavours are being made to overcome the problem*. I am sceptical of the Government’s endeavours because I fear that it does not understand the problem.
– The Democratic Labor Party believes in principle that the motion which has been moved on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Bishop is entirely justified. We believe that there has been too much frustration and too much delay in the development of an Australian aircraft industry. Our attitude has been set out in debates upon the subject over several years, particularly by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Sentor Gair. In every policy speech which he has made at election time for quite a few years he has set out the strong view of the Democratic Labor Party that Australia must have its own aircraft industry. We believe that from a defence point of view in particular it is vital. Britian can no longer assist us in our defence as it did to our advantage so many times in the past. The United States, particularly in view of what is happening at present, is a doubtful quantity. Australia, while seeking to retain those desirable alliances which have helped it in the past, faces the situation that realistically it has to be as self sufficient as possible in defence in future. If we base our defence on the prospect of supplies from overseas we have to face the fact that our sea routes may be cut. Britain has vacated the Indian Ocean. The Pacific is no longer safe from the point of view of our communications. One of the most significant things that we must bear in mind is that Soviet and Chinese submarine forces have been exercising for some time in the region of the Solomons, which covers the area across which our communications and defence supplies would have to come if we were not providing the bulk of our defences.
In those circumstances the Democratic Labor Party has firmly advocated a policy of Australia developing its own aircraft industry. All over the world today it has been demonstrated that there is uncertainty in any country relying upon supplies of weapons from elsewhere. Tank weapons which were freely available from Sweden suddenly became not freely available. While we were relying on the Mirage there was a period when France refused to supply the Mirage to certain countries with whose policies it disagreed. In Italy there has been trouble in regard to the supply of defence parts to certain countries. In those circumstances the DLP says that when a country cannot rely upon getting its aircraft or weapons from overseas *t is that country’s duty to try to be as self sufficient as possible. That applies particularly to a country such as Australia which has 12 million people. Self sufficiency involves being able to supply to the highest degree that the country possibly can. We recognise the limitations of costs and the other limitations. Bearing all that in mind we say that ultimately it may be less costly to develop one’s own industry than it would be to rely on overseas supplies which may not be freely available. Therefore the Democratic Labor Party has persisted in its altitude that Australia must be self sufficient in regard to aircraft, in the face of repeated sneers from critics and sections of the media which have always attempted to suggest that Australia’s own aircraft industry would be too costly and that we cannot expect to be able to operate our own industry.
Our attitude has been reinforced by the views expressed by Senator Bishop about the people who are at present in the industry. Many are people who have given a large part of their lives to the Australian aircraft industry. Many are people who were attracted from other countries by the promise that Australia was developing its own aircraft industry and that there would be a career for them in that industry. Yet it must be admitted - I say this because I have had contact with these people and they have said it to me - that the people who have commited themselves to the development of an Australian aircraft industry and who have believed that Australia intended to offer them the opportunity of a career in that industry today are uncertain of the future and are contemplating leaving the industry permanently, as Senator Bishop said. They are people with special skills. If they go they will be very hard to replace. 1 believe that Australia will be very badly served if we permit all these delays and all this frustration in regard to the development of an Australian industry to drive out of the field people who will be essentia] particularly if the time comes when Australia is at war and is faced wilh the necessity perhaps of building aircraft but at the very least of providing maintenance for those aircraft - ‘maintenance of the type which can be given only by highly skilled personnel.
What is disturbing these people at present is the uncertainty about the future of the industry. Like other people they have been told that a rationalisation is going to take place. But the Government for quite a considerable time has been uncertain as to what form that rationalisation will take. I can understand the Government’s position. The future of an aircraft industry is not the kind of thing that one can resolve by the toss of a coin. It is not the kind of thing on which one can make decisions in a moment. The future of an aircraft industry is something which involves very careful study and inquiry; it is something which requires very careful decisions.
The people engaged in the industry are particularly concerned with the suggestions that private enterprise will take an increasing part in the industry in the future. They want to know whether this means that the Government will hand over to private industry the major control of the aircraft industry of the future. People working in the industry at the moment feel that experience abroad shows that a strong government interest in an aircraft industry is an essential if that industry is to succeed and operate as it should operate. Experience abroad has shown that private industry increasingly is being frozen out of the field and that governments more and more are being called on to exercise a controlling interest in the aircraft industries in country after country. They feel that it would be a bad day for the future of the Australian industry if the Government made a decision which would allow the main control to pass out of its hands. Some people concerned with the industry even have come to the conclusion that to hand the industry over largely to private enterprise would be the first step towards phasing out the Australian aircraft industry. Therefore I believe in the views that are expressed by people who are good Australians, some of whom have told me when I visited them that they were prepared to commit their future careers to this industry. I believe that these people have justifiable doubts.
I believe that the Government at a very early stage has to indicate to these people what it proposes to do so that they can make a decision as to their future. I had it said to me by one person engaged in the industry that 80 per cent of those who could be classed as top ranking aircraft experts will leave the industry if it passes substantially into private hands. They will do this because they consider that there will be no future for an Australian industry which is substantially in private hands. They feel that the Government would be abrogating its responsibilities if it acted in this way. I say bluntly that it will be a tragedy for the future of any aircraft industry in this country if these people, who are irreplaceable, decide to go into other fields because they feel that their future is not secure in the aircraft industry. What would be the position if a crisis occurred? What would happen if war broke out and it was essential that the services of these people be utilised? I believe that it would be a matter of the utmost difficulty to reassemble these people if such a situation arose. However, if we had a viable Australian aircraft industry these people would be there on the spot and available for action.
I think that one must pay a tribute to people working in the aircraft industry. I think anyone who has considered the record of the ‘Ikara’ and ‘Turana’ missiles and realises the intense interest that has been shown overseas in these weapons can only come to the conclusion that we are very fortunate to have in our aircraft industry men who are capable of developing those weapons. I agree with what has been said about the light aircraft. Surely this project deserves every support from the Australian Government. I realise, as has been said, that the Government has given millions of dollars towards the development of this aircraft. I have taken the trouble to visit the aircraft organisation in Melbourne which is concerned with this project. I feel that the Government is being too slow in making up its mind about this project and as a result is inducing a feeling of frustration in the minds of many of the expert personnel and this could well lead to their leaving the industry. This would have disastrous results to Australia’s future. I think that we should be proud of what people in industry have done in regard to missiles. I think we should be proud of what they have done in regard to the light aircraft.
I suggest that one particular weapon which has been shown to be extremely important these days is the helicoper. I would hope that some opportunities will be given to the Australian aircraft industry to develop an Ausralian helicopter. It has been said to me that if one of the helicopters we have at present breaks down - and there are few enough in Australia - it has either to be discarded or sent to the United States of America to be put back into operation. If this is so I think that such a state of affairs is scandalous. I would think that the manufacture of helicopters would obviously be one field that Australia could enter in order to provide part of a future at any rate for our aircraft industry.
I hope that I am not being over-critical. Senator Gair, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, has said in every policy speech presented on behalf of my Party that the Democratic Labor Party stands for our own aircraft industry. We realise how costly this can be. We realise that a decision cannot be made in a day and that we have to examine and inquire into the whole matter very carefully. But we have examined this and inquired into it. We have come to the conclusion that whatever the potential disadvantages might be they are f”r outweighed by the obvious advantages that would accrue to this country from the possession of its own aircraft industry.
Australia by virtue of its bulk and climate is eminently suited to the operation of aircraft. It seems to me an amazing thing that we in Australia cannot yet say to the world that we have an aircraft industry worthy of our future. Therefore, as I have said, I feel that Senator Bishop’s motion is justified in that it accuses the Government of a certain amount of frustration and delay. I hope that the frustration and delay will be eliminated. I hope that the many good people in the industry who have done so much to put it on a sound basis and who are now wondering whether there is any future for them in the industry will be given the assurances by the Government that are needed to retain their services. If that happens I believe that ultimately it will be good for the people of Australia.
– May I say from he outset that I too am concerned about the defence of this country. I believe also that a viable and effective aircraft industry is important in that defence. I think that many people have not realised the changes that have occurred in the aircraft industry since the last war. The cost of building aircraft in those days was very small compared with what it is today. We know that during the Second World War many different types of aircraft were operated by the Royal Australian Air Force in one area. Those aircraft included fighters, medium bombers, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and so forth. But since that time we have developed into the jet age and the sophistication of aircraft has been such that the cost of developing and manufacturing any particular type has become enormous. Therefore, the number of orders of aircraft that one is to build must be such that one can cut down the developmental costs.
Australia is a small country and the requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Army are such that we would certainly need overseas orders if we were to develop a really high class aircraft to be used in particular for military purposes. We would have to compete with multi-million dollar enterprises in the United States of America and Europe. Even the British found that they had to join forces with European operators in order to develop the Concorde. We have also seen the Rolls Royce company go broke trying to develop an aircraft engine to fit that aircraft for the jet age of the future, the supersonic age. Consequently, the Australian Government, which has the responsibility of looking after the taxpayers money, had to weigh all these propositions. I believe that it has come up with a very reasonable proposition in regard to maintaining a viable industry here.
We have used our local industry to manufacture the aircraft and the parts that have been found to be suitable for our Services and they have been bought by the experts from the Royal Australian Air Force and the Army. As a result, if we reached the stage of a conflict our industry would be able to produce aircraft that were at least comparable with most that were operating at the time. This has been the object of the Government right through. Aircraft that our aircraft industry has manufactured in Australia include the Canberra bomber, the Sabre fighter, the Vampire fighter and trainer, the Mirage fighter and trainer and the Macchi trainer. Of course, in the engine field we have manufactured the Nene, Avon, Atar and Viper engines. Senator James McClelland said that the Macchi aircraft looked as though it should be tossed out now and that we should get another aircraft. I think that the RAAF has been more than satisfied with the role that the Macchi aircraft has played in the training of our pilots. 1 do not think that, at this stage anyway, the RAAF envisages dispensing with that aircraft for some time, lt has done a remarkable job and it is capable of doing a job for some time to come.
I do not think that it is in the interests of this nation and the taxpayers in particular when something is doing a job to scrap it and get something else. I agree that that is not to say that we should not go overseas and have a look to see what is available.
– The honourable senator has not been doing his homework.
– The experts have been overseas looking around, but that is not to say that they will purchase any other aircraft to replace the Macchi trainer.
– That project is finished.
– As the Macchi goes on other projects will continue. Reference was made to the Project N aircraft. I do not have the material with me at the moment, but I saw a comparison between the Project N aircraft and the twin Otter aircraft. I do not know whether Senator Poyser has operated a twin Otter or been in one.
– The honourable senator must be joking.
– If he has been in a twin Otter he will know that this aircraft is very similar in its operational functions to the Project N aircraft. I could not imagine that at this stage the RAAF would have any purpose for an aircraft like the twin Otter.
– 1 am glad the honourable senator is on record as saying that.
– I am saying it.
– I am one of those who believe that the RAAF in the future will be the front line fighter of this nation, if we are attacked. I do not want to see it, as other people might, fighting with aircraft as our forces did with the Wirraway aircraft against the Zero aircraft. So far as I am concerned, only the best is good enough for our Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilots. It is all right for Senator Poyser to interject. I know that he has his problems. Nearly all the Commonwealth Aircraft Factories’ establishments are down in his area.
– This is completely untrue.
– If the executive of his Party down there had any say in the running of this country I do not know whether there would be an aircraft industry. If there was, it would be only to sell aircraft to North Vietnam dr somewhere else. So let us not be concerned about our performance in relation to defence. I believe that the Project N aircraft has opportunities in the private sector. There could be possibilities with the Army also. In the private sector, its short take-off and landing capabilities are ideal for certain purposes in certain areas. Because of cheaper running costs compared with heli- copters, which naturally the RAAF would be using for this type of purpose, it would be ideal. 1 believe that the Government is doing a good job in endeavouring to help this project. No doubt, in the future it will help to see whether we can obtain sales overseas.
– What about sales in Australia?
– All right; what is the honourable senator doing to promote it? Does he know of any private organisation which might want this aircraft?
– I have done it for months.
– How many has the honourable senator sold? That is the interesting point.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! Senator Poyser will cease interjecting.
– Ignore him.
– That is an idea.
– It is the first idea the honourable senator has ever had and he needed someone else to give it to him.
– At least on this side of the chamber we do have ideas and do not have to reply on an outside organisation to decide things for us. I believe that the Government has shown a responsibility not only to the aircraft industry but also to the taxpayers of this country. Corporations and organisations overseas have lost millions because a project has failed to come up to scratch. I believe that this is a situation which we in this country cannot afford. While we can select aircraft that are suitable for our conditions and operations and are able to build, maintain and manufacture the parts for those aircraft we are moving along the right track in a very stable and responsible way. It would be tragic if we tried to compete with some of these overseas firms in order to produce aircraft that would be better than some of theirs. The cost of this to the taxpayers would be enormous. It is all very well for those who have not the responsibility of running this country to speak in this way.
We hear the Labor Party on different occasions saying that it wants to spend money on this and that. It is not very interested in defence but it wants to spend money on the development of military aircraft. Who they would be for, I would not know. I believe that the Government, having for years had the responsibility to run this country in a profitable and economic way, has done a good job. It has been able to maintain a force of aircraft. There are 7,000 people employed in the industry. Admittedly, that number has risen and fallen, but it has been maintained on a reasonably stable baisis. New projects which have been put forward can play a very important part in assisting this industry. For example, the military has a requirement for a light observation helicopter and 75 will be purchased over a long period. This will keep the industry going. We also have the Ikara project. Approval has been given for an effort to be made to achieve overseas sales of the Ikara anti submarine weapons system. This too will enable the industry to have some work with which to continue.
The Turana target drone is another example. It is based on the Ikara system and has been adopted by the Royal Australian Navy. After successful research and development by the local industry the first small production run of Turanas is about to be commenced. Then, of course, we have the Project N which I have mentioned before. In addition to aircraft specially selected by the RAAF we will have a requirement at some stage for a replacement for the Mirage aircraft. At some stage, replacements will be required for some of our other aircraft. We believe that our aircraft industry will be able to manufacture the parts and, in some cases, construct the aircraft. AH the arguments and Opposition rubbishing of the Government’s operations in this field are unfounded.
The policy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party is understandable. The DLP believes in defence. To back up that belief, it must promote policies which will generate expenditure in that area. Although we on the Government side are most keen on defence, we believe that there are other projects which are-
– Senator, you do not need to build military aircraft to keep people skilled in aerodynamics together.
– That may be the honourable senator’s point of view. But I am pointing out that the Government is doing in a responsible way in developing its own aircraft industry in this country. I believe that it has done its job, as I said before in a reasonable way. This is one area in which money may be spent. Bi?t we could spend money on all sorts of projects. One of the mot important is the development of this nation to which this Government has contributed for so long. A great deaf of money cannot be spent in one direction only on the basis that enough will still bc available for expenditure in another field. In the development of this country, we must have balanced expenditure whether it is in relation to military requirements, the expansion of our resources or in the production of wealth. After all, these are all important in our defence structure. It is of no good meeting all the military requirements of our country if the country does not produce any wealth. The development of a country needs balanced expenditure. I believe that this Government has followed that course. I am quite happy at this stage with its performance in relation to the Australian aircraft industry.
– I support the most lucid exposition which has been given to the Senate in the course of this debate by my colleagues, Senator Bishop and Senator Poyser. They dealt in depth with the inner problems of the industry. But, in the final analysis, the aircraft industry is one segment only of our defence effort. A consideration of history of this aspect is significant. I am prompted by Senator Maunsell to recall that, whether we like it or not, a famous Commonwealth election was held in 1938 during which a future Labor Prime Minister argued about the supremacy of the air arm. He was scoffed at by the government of the day.
If honourable senators read some of the books dealing with the role of Air Marshal Brooke-Popham as exercised from his base in Singapore, they will find a peculiar resemblance between what happened at that period and the situation today. A sort of resistance to embarking upon aicraft production in Australia existed because such action might have affected British industry. That resistance continued in the post-war period and the middle 1950s. The situation that we face now is one in which we seem to be quite content to lease aircraft from or to enter into all sorts of agreements with the United States of America to meet our needs. In effect, the role into which we have placed our own aircraft industry is an inferior one.
I take the point tonight that aircraft production is only one segment of our overall defence policy. Whatever may have been said up to the early 1950s, with the rundown following World War II, the plain fact of the matter is that after that period when the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies as he now is, beat the big drum about defence the poor relation was the aircraft industry. In New South Wales, we have never been able to get the full story as to why the Victa Aircraft Company was not stabilised to the degree that it should have been. I do not base my argument completely on the private sector of the industry at all. My argument is that the Government could have achieved a consolidation of forces with regard to administration. One of the war time administrators was Sir John Story, and at the top of the administration was Senator Donald Cameron who was the Minister responsible for aircraft production. The point I make is that the nucleus of administration and skill was available.
Whatever may have been said about the mistakes of the mid-1950s, many people have argued that Australia’s role in defence production could have been comparable not merely with that of France but with that of countries in the Scandinavian orbit. I heard Senator McManus refer to the attitude of the Swedish Government with respect to certain anti-tank guns. This is true. I can recall in 1966 visiting Puckapunyal with a defence committee of the Australian Labor Party. We were told that we were living on tenderhooks with respect to an aspect of Australia’s foreign policy and that if this aspect did not dovetail with Swedish views the boom would be lowered on us. I do not dispute the role of the Swedish Government one bit, but I do believe that in relation to industry the parity between Australia and Scandinavian countries was such that if a reasonable expansion had occurred in our aircraft industry or generally in relation to ordinance components Australia could have emulated the development in Scandinavian countries in Budget terms. What was said by Senator Maunsell does not matter. Each year in our consideration of the defence estimates we have argued that we should get a dollar’s value for each dollar spent. All that has happened is that far too often to obtain our defence requirements we have put ourselves into pawn with the countries whose industries have supplied our needs, namely, England and the United States.
Having said that, I need do no more than quote one of our leading aeronautical correspondents. I refer to Jack Percival who, writing recently, referred to the millions of dollars that went down the drain in the purchase of the Fill aircraft. He stated that had this money been spent on other forms of expansion in the aeronautical field our aircraft industry would continue for a decade. I accept that point. In proof of it I refer to the interjection that Senator McManus made confirming the point which had been laid down already by Senator Poyser and Senator Bishop. Man does not live by bread alone. Ample expansion was available to the aircraft industry in many other fields. To prove that point, I recall attending a forestry conference 4 years ago. A plague of locusts, so to speak, in the form of overseas agents for various helicopter producing firms descended on us. They all told us of the role of the helicopter in this area. We agreed with them. The tragedy was that we were prepared to do a deal with these firms and to give them a franchise to commence operations in this country. However, if at a given time Britain or the United States established priorities which had to be met, they would get in first. One of the enigmas of the defence situation has always been that if one of the Latin American countries wants the current bomber or fighter that is on the production line in industrial America that country has no difficulty in obtaining 20 or 30 of those aircraft if its dictatorship is on side with the American White House. The acquisition of such aircraft might not matter in Latin America but I think that it has been made abundantly clear that with aircraft providing the front line of defence for
Australia we cannot live on handouts. We must be in the position of having an industry to meet our needs in this respect. Senator Maunsell argued about priorities in the allocation of expenditure between development and defence. We have argued time and time again that the industrial capacity of a country is a vital factor. As a matter of fact, whatever may have been said about the sins and omissions of this Government, the plain fact of the matter is that a lesson should have been learnt last year when the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) led a delegation to the Council of Europe. That delegation visited the south of France and saw the magnitude of the French aircraft industry there. If we compare the development in France with Australia’s requirements in relation to helicopters and its needs in respect of so many different types of light aircraft, quite apart from possible profitable contracts that could have been entered into with Asian countries, what was seen by that delegation in France was an eye opener, I think, to all of its members.
We can talk until we are blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that France was a vanquished nation after World War II. It lost all of its colonies with one notable exception. The loss of that colony was delayed and I will not canvass that matter now. Despite its situation, France was able to establish an aircraft industry. It is beyond the comprehension of most people that in establishing our priorities we could not lift Australia’s aircraft industry higher on our lists. If we take the situation in reverse, the ironical thing is that some perfectionist probably would argue that if aircraft are not obtained from the United States or Britain what are acquired are second grade articles. Whatever the pros and cons of the Middle East crisis, the fact is that some of the French products that Israel had meant the difference between defeat and victory in several of the Middle East conflicts. I suppose one can take that a little further and argue that all the procrastination that has been associated with our negotiations with the United States on the FI 1 1 aircraft, quite apart from the cost factor, meant that we are beholden now to another nation. But this has been the history of Australia.
It seems to me that during the period between the 2 world wars we had an inferiority complex about shipbuilding. Now we have reached the stage where we seem to be reluctant to develop our aircraft industry. As an afterthought, we throw it out a few crumbs by way of small projects, but we have a strange reluctance to rev up the industry so that it can become viable. My criticism is not of Senator Drake-Brockman, who is speaking for the Government. Our commercial and trade policy has meant that we have been beholden to many major powers, and the result has flowed down through our defence line of command. To see this one can go to any of our Air Force bases and then, to go to the other extreme, talk to crop dusting pilots and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. We talk of people like Kingsford-Smith and Ulm, but it seems that the top echelon of policy makers is bedazzled by the achievments of other countries.
It was not so long ago, during the controversy over the F111, that we had some Ministers simply quoting as Government policy something out of the high pressure publicity journals produced by some firms. In France, through all her upheavals and changes of constitution, the aircraft industry has survived. If Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson were in the chamber he would agree with me that our visit to the south of France 12 months ago this month was an eye-opener to us. Despite all the vicissitudes that that nation has suffered, it realised what it meant to it to have a viable aircraft industry. That is the situation with which we are confronted today. It is not a question of prestige. I know that we can take it a little further and argue about the prestige of having an international airline; but, as earlier speakers tonight have pointed out, much more than that is involved. This is a question concerning a vital component of our defence forces. The matter which has been raised by Senator Bishop and which has received only token opposition from the Government is a timely reminder that when people beat the big drum of defence it does not mean very much if they drain off so much of our expenditure as to make us beholden to other nations. Whilst we deal today with the super powers, many of the African and Asian nations are delighted to deal on a contract basis with countries that are not super powers. I believe that this issue has been well and truly canvassed. Previous speakers from the Opposition side have laid the foundation and have convinced many honourable senators of the value of the matter we have been discussing. For that reason I move:
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The Acting Deputy President - Senator Lawrie)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, we have just witnessed a most extraordinary exhibition. Senator Bishop, to whomI ascribe the virtue of sincerity, a man interested in the welfare of an Australian industry, has put forward a motion related to the Australian aircraft industry. Before my friend Senator Mulvihill resumed his seat only 4 of his colleagues were prepared to listen to his important motion. (Honourable senators opposite interjecting) -
The ACTING DEPUTYPRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order!
– I did’ not put the motion down. I do not know why it happens that so frequently when I have pearls to place before this chamber I am interrupted by honourable senators opposite. Senator Bishop has adverted to a very serious and important question in our industrial life and in our defence life. To that, extent I give him credit. Unfortunately I cannot go along with Senator Bishop in the words and the attitudes that he expressed.
– That surprises us.
– Can I have a fair go? I was very quiet when you were speaking.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! There is far too much conversation in the chamber. The honourable senator will be heard in silence. I call Senator Hannan.
– I am indeed grateful to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, for your protection, which apparently I need so badly.
– You are only a filler inner.
– Wait until I am finished with you to see whether or not I am a filler inner. I want to refer firstly, before getting around to some of the nonsense which has emanated from the official Opposition, to the 2 difficult matters to which my friend Senator McManus referred but which I could not understand. The point which Senator McManus made in regard to Project N could be valid if the Royal Australian Air Force and the Army had completed their evaluations of this extremely important project. But in truth and in fact, as the honourable senator must know, that evaluation has not yet been done. Approximately 99 per cent of the production from the Government Aircraft Factories, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd and the Hawker Siddeley company is in respect of military aircraft. Unless the Defence forces have a requirement for Project N and unless we have very many overseas purchasers rushing in, wanting to put their dollars down and saying, ‘Look, we will have a dozen or a couple of dozen of these aircraft’, it would be the height of folly to become involved in a project of this kind.
The other matter to which my friend adverted, perhaps casually, was the fact that we were not producing helicopters. As you will know, Mr Acting Deputy President, we are producing - admittedly it is over a period of time - 75 light helicopters for the Army and 116 helicopters for civilian use. This is not peanuts in an industry which produces this highly complex and most valuable equipment. As I said before, almost the entire output from the Government Aircraft Factories, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the Hawker Siddeley company are military aircraft. This is what puzzles me. These aircraft are needed for defence purpose. One does not need to be Mandrake to know that the Australian Labor Party has no defence policy. That being the case, how on earth can it show any interest in the production of aircraft from CAC, GAF or Hawker Siddeley for defence? To find the answer we do not have to look further than the events which occurred last weekend at the Victorian State Council of the ALP and its appalling decision on Vietnam. We do not have to go beyond the treachery of that decision to know how little interest the official opposition has in defence, foreign affairs and our relations with our great and powerful friends. That being the case, I find it a little difficult to understand why-
– 1 rise to a point of order. I am concerned about the question of relevancy which is essential in the debate and whether what the Labor Party did last week has anything to do with aircraft production in Australia.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– It is not difficult to understand the sensitivity of my friend Senator Cavanagh in relation to these matters which indicate quite clearly that the Australian Labor Party is not interested in defence and is not interested in foreign affairs.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Hannan, I suggest you keep your remarks a little closer to the motion before the Senate.
Opposition senators - Hear! hear!
– 1 am glad to hear the cheers which indicate that my honourable friends opposite so value your protection, Mr Acting Deputy President.
– You should talk about the subject under discussion.
– You will have to do better than that. That is childish. For the past 35, almost 40, years the aircraft industry in Australia has revolved around and been economically dependant upon orders from the Royal Australian Air Force. The entire industry seems to revolve around the large factories - Government Aircraft Factories, Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation - which are situated in the predominant manufacturing area of Australia, namely, Melbourne, Victoria, around which the whole nation seems to revolve in an industrial sense, and the minor production is done in Sydney by the Hawker Siddeley company. When these 3 large contractors are put together, along with the 10 or 15 other parts contractors, we find that we have the nucleus of a small, viable, highly developed aircraft industry. That being the case, it is not surprising that of the 1,300 aircraft recently purchased by the RAAF 1,000 were manufactured in Australia. If this is neglecting an industry, I think words have lost their meaning. It is not possible to take seriously the criticism in that regard. In addition the decision was made recently - it was not quite so recently - to build Macchi all-through jet trainers. It has been necessary to buy the relatively small number of aircraft which have been purchased abroad because of the type of aircraft involved. We did not have an adequate run of production to set up jigs, assembly and manufacture in this country. Does any honourable senator opposite suggest that we should have got involved in the manufacture of Mysteres or BAC Ills or aircraft of that type?
In the financial year 1970-71 the RAAF spent 74 per cent of its budget on Australian production. In addition to the money spent with major contractors we have a vast number, almost 200, minor suppliers of bits and pieces and so forth who have contributed their share towards the maintenance of the Australian aircraft industry. There is one particularly interesting policy which has been adopted by the
Royal Australian Air Force under the present enlightened administration of the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) and that is this: If it is necessary to buy aircraft or components abroad on one particular occasion, at a later date if that order has to be repeated a search and check is carried out first to see whether the aircraft or equipment is available in Australia. Australian firms are given the opportunity of fulfilling the order before the matter is finalised overseas.
Another relatively small aspect when one considers the capital cost of aircraft is the Government’s policy on offset orders. When the Government has ordered aircraft abroad, as it has done from the Boeing organisation, it has arranged for offset orders to be placed for portions of the aircraft. These are set off against the total debit for the purchase. In Australia we manufacture rudders, elevators and in spar ribs for Boeing 727 aircraft. You will be interested to know, Mr Acting Deputy President, that Australia now is the sole source of supply for rudders, elevators and in spar ribs for Boeing 727 aircraft. There are other examples of offset orders which I could give. The United Aircraft Corporation of America already has placed orders in Australia worth $165,000 and is currently negotiating further contracts for aero-engine components. I am not going to be foolish and say that this is the greatest industrial feat of the 20th century but it does mean that the aircraft industry in Australia is receiving sustenance as a result of the Government’s policy. In the long term it means also that because of the close involvement of our manufacturers with overseas manufacturers, which have all the technological assets which the American and French nations, for example, can provide, our industries increasingly are drawn into the main stream of world development.
The Australian aircraft industry has developed a number of firsts. I want initially to refer to what I regard as one of the more outstanding successes of Australian designers and aero-engineers. I refer to the Jindivik pilotless target aircraft. As you would appreciate, Mr Acting Deputy President, it is not very pleasant to fly an aircraft with a drogue trailing at the real and to have people firing anti-aricraft shells at the drogue. That being the case the people at our range in South Australia developed the Jindivik. This is a pilotless jet aircraft which tows a target drogue. It has been so successful that the American Government has placed orders for it. I recall seeing a sound film made by the American Department of the Navy before the Jindivik was sold. It was a great triumph for Australian scientists, engineers and manufacturers to compete successfully with American defence manufacturers, having in mind that, by congressional order, overseas orders are not placed for defence equipment unless it is absolutely necessary.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The hor Durable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to give the strongest possible support to the motion moved by Senator Bishop. lt affords to us an appropriate and timely opportunity to consider a matter which is of very great consequence and importance to this nation. I refer to the very existence of an aircraft manufacturing industry making frames, components and systems which can be put into aircraft manufactured in this country. Over a period of years the aircraft industry has provided quite outstanding employment opportunities for a very large section of the work force. It also has provided an opportunity for amassing skills and techniques in this highly sophisticated industry which is very essential to many aspects of life in this country. When one refers to a matter of this kind involving the national aircraft industry one must have very serious regard to the implications of its continued existence. It would be of the greatest concern for the defence potential of the nation if the industry were to go out of existence. I would like to devote part of my speech this evening to that aspect of this matter.
We have in this country, as you, Mr President, and honourable senators would well know, a very proud record in this field, going back well over a quarter of a century - in fact well over 30 years ago when aircraft were first manufactured in Australia. It was essential to the defence of this nation in the years of the Second World War to have an aircraft manufacturing potential. We were able, with the skills and ability of Australian citizens, to develop that industry and we were forced to rely very heavily on it in the course of the Second World War and in subsequent years. I recall, as a serviceman of those days, taking a great deal of interest in the type of training aircraft developed in Australia. I remember the Wackett trainer. Subsequently I can remember a particular type of aircraft developed and manufactured in this country which made quite a notable contribution to our defence potential in the Second World War. It was the Boomerang. I remember - I guess this will be news to a number of honourable senators and to many people throughout Australia - that Sir Lawrence Wackett developed a twin engined bomber which at that time seemed to offer us an opportunity to extend our defence potential in the direction of the manufacture of multi-engined aircraft. That aircraft was designed, tested and flown in this country but I do not believe it was ever flown operationally.
The point I want to make is that there was within this country the skill to design, develop, manufacture and bring an aircraft into service. It is sad to reflect that over the past several years, despite the claims which the Government makes about the need for the development of the highest level of defence potential, we have seen a quite serious decline and a very serious fluctuation in the fortunes of the various sections of the aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia. It is very sad indeed. One would have thought that having regard to all the factors involved - the need to develop these skills within this country, the need to provide the educational opportunities for people engaged in the industry and the need for facilities to be available to provide for the rapid development of the potential of the aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia should the need arise - the situation would have been different.
This Government claims to have the interests of the defence of the nation very much to heart. With all the warnings that have come from the Government side of the Parliament over the years one would have thought that the Government would have expanded the aircraft industry, that it would have done everyhing it possibly could to ensure its continued existence - and as lively an existence as possible. In fact we have seen the opposite. We have seen a rundown, a decline, a fluctuation in the employment available at various levels of the aircraft industry in Australia. People are coming into and going out of the industry, and there is a general disenchantment on the part of people who have been engaged in the industry over the years. Honourable senators may say that I must spell this out in greater detail. That is exactly what I propose to do now. During the evening I have been engaged in a very important committee meeting concerned with the final judgment on the merits of a report on the defence forces retirement benefits and I have not had an opportunity to follow as closely as I might the fortune of today’s debate. I hope therefore that the Senate will bear with me a little if I tend to traverse again ground which may have been covered by earlier speakers.
– Just fly over it.
– No. I detect a very serious need. I believe that I am the person who should endeavour to educate some of the speakers from the Government side of the chamber.
– Order! I do not think that Senator Devitt requires any advice. I have listened to him many times and he is quite capable of advancing his own ideas in his own way.
– Thank you, Mr President; that is quite true. I am advancing my ideas now. I believe that there is a need for me to say what 1 want to say about this matter because a lamentable lack of understanding seems to have been shown by honourable senators on the other side of the chamber in relation to the full implications of what is happening at the present time. 1 return to what I was saying. Undoubtedly Senator Bishop covered very ably, as he always does, that aspect of the aircraft manufacturing industry in this country which relates to the more active areas of aircraft manufacture. I am concerned now for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd and the Government Aircraft Factories where activity has been going on in the fulfilment of defence orders, in the manufacture of Mirage and various other types of aircraft, in the manufacture of components for civil aircraft and, of course, the very interesting Project N which has recently come to virtual fulfilment.
For the moment I turn my attention to 2 very serious deficiences, very serious omissions, on the part of the Government. An opportunity was provided for it to assist the development of the light aircraft industry. On 6th January 1967 as a consequence of a reference by the Government to the Tariff Board a report was tabled in Parliament advising against the granting of assistance to the Victor Aircraft Company which had developed a very splendid light aircraft. There is no doubt that our defence system has a requirement for light aircraft. This has been demonstrated in recent years. As I have indicated, the Tariff Board advised the Government against providing any assistance towards the cost of manufacturing the Victa Air Cruiser or the Victa Air Tourer. That judgment must have been made in a very cold and abstract way lithout giving very much consideration to the interests of Australia. I repeat that the report was against granting any assistance towards the development of this industry which would have enabled a very sound basis to have been built up for the manufacture of light aircraft in Australia. Ultimately Australia was forced to rely on light aircraft produced overseas.
It is interesting to reflect that in competition with its counterparts from other parts of the world the Victa aircraft was judged to be the winner. The contest determined the merits of these sorts of aircraft. Her in Australia, a young country, a small country, lacking a lot of the resources which other countries have, it appears that we were prepred merely to accept without any further consideration, the judgment of the Tariff Board which said that on the basis of pure economics alone the airacraft was not a goer. Of course it waw a goer. The only problem we had was that we did not have enough money to get behind the company to make sure that the aircraft was a goer. Functionally that aircraft was at the top of its class. We saw the project dies. What did the company do? It shifted to New Zeland, a country with about a quarter of our population. New Zeland was able to support the manufacture of the aircraft; it was able to give the subvention necessary to carry on this project.
On 21st June 1968 another Tariff Board Report on a magnificent little aircraft came down. I flew in this aircraft and I saw the value of it immediately. It has been demonstrated since that my judgment was not wrong. As a crop duster and pest spray aircraft in rural areas this aircraft was top in its class. It has a most interesting history which time will not allow me to go into now. The point is that the company, Transavia Corporation Pty Ltd which is a wholly Australian company, wanted some assistance with the first 85 aircraft manufactured. On the basis of its economics it judged that when it reached the figure of 85 it would no longer need a government subvention. The company asked the Government to help it. Here was a revolutionary type of aircraft incorporating some quite novel devices which we had not seen anywhere else in the world prior to this time.
Here was an opportunity for the Government to pick up the ball where it had dropped it on the first occasion and to give some financial support to this organisation. The company had proved itself in all its ventures up to this time. It is to be highly commended in a number of other directions which, again, I cannot go into because of the lack of time. But again the Tariff Board reported against any assistance being given towards the manufacture and development of an aircraft by this important and essential industry. There is no far-sightedness on the part of the Government. There is absolutely no vision. There seems to be no ability to make any judgment on the merits of some project which may be of tremendous benefit to the defence of this country and in the production and development of the necessary skills for the manufacture of both light and other forms of aircraft. The more of these organisations we have scattered about the country the less will be the impact of any fluctuations in the fortunes of the various sections of the industry. Instead of people working in a particular section of the industry losing their jobs and going to some other form of employment where the full range of their skills cannot be employed, they could move to some other section of the industry. The greater the diversification and proliferation of industries engaged in aircraft manufacture or the manufacture of components the less will be the impact of the fluctuating fortunes of the industry and the less will be the disastrous social and economic effect on the people who are working in that industry. It is of no good for us to go on like this.
We are prepared to waste hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing aircraft from overseas. All we have ever seen of some of these aircraft in this country are models. They are beautiful things with wings which move backwards and forwards but they will not fly. Ultimately the companies are bound to make them fly because we are not restricting the amount of finance which they will receive. Every time they ask for a few more tens of millions of dollars we say: ‘OK. We will receive the aircraft in due time.’ The purpose for which some of these aircraft were ordered has never come about anyway. They were to be used to fight the Indonesians or somebody else but this never came to pass; so they will be spare. We are prepared to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on aircraft manufactured overseas which have never been proved. We bought the Fill aircraft when it was on the drawing board and as far as I am concerned it ought to stay on the drawing board. But here we have an opportunity to provide about $lm to the Victa Aircraft Co. lo give it financial support and, in the case of the Air Truk, we have an opportunity to provide $480,000 or $490,000. Is this too much to ask, when we can spend approximately $300m on a very sophisticated wartime aircraft? We say that we do not have enough money to provide $1,500,000 to support a light aircraft industry in this country. I think that we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting that state of affairs come about.
We should be doing everything we can to retain the skills of these highly trained personnel in the industry. We should be doing everything we can to provide the educational opportunities to develop these higher skills. We should be underwriting those people who are prepared to give their time, energy, initiative and imagination to the designing of aircraft suitable for Australian conditions. But we are not doing that. In the circumstances I have no option but to support with all the strength that I possibly can the motion moved by Senator Bishop.
– Order! The time allowed for discussion of the motion has expired.
– Order! Does the Leader of the Government wish to intervene at this stage?
– Yes. r want to intervene.
– Order! The Senate will come to order and proceed with discussion of the business.
– I want to explain what is happening in relation to the conduct of the business. There are 3 Bills which, with the cooperation of the Opposition parties, have been given a speedy passage in the other place. They are the Social Services Bill (No. 2) and the Repatriation Bill, and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill which is complementary to the other 2 Bills. The message covering the Social Services Bill has arrived, and we are expecting almost immediately the messages for the other two bills. The Government proposes to introduce all three bills. I understand from Senator Willesee - and I am sure Senator Gair would agree - that the Opposition is agreeable to their being proceeded with now and disposed of without the need to take an adjournment of the debate. I understand that this arrangement has been entered into between the Parties. I am sure Senator Gair would agree with that, too, to give a speedy passage to the 3 Bills which provide additional benefits and pensions for the 3 categories of persons. I therefore move:
That other business be postponed until the Social Services Bill (No. 2), Repatriation Bill and Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill have been disposed of.
I have moved this motion on the assumption that messages covering the Repatriation Bill and Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill will arrive. I am fairly confident that they will.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second dme.
In his speech on the economy on 11th April the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) announced increases in age, invalid and widows’ pensions, long-term sickness benefits and sheltered employment allowances. This Bill will give effect to this announcement. It is proposed to increase the standard rate of pension by $1 a week, and the married rate by 75c a week. The new maximum standard rate of pension will be $18.25 a week, while the maximum rate of pension for married persons and widows without dependent children will now be $16 a week. These increases will flow on to rehabilitation allowances, sheltered employment allowances and service pensions. Long-term sickness benefits payable to adults and other persons qualified for the adult rate of benefit will rise by $1 to $18.25 a week. The rate payable to unmarried minors will rise by 75c to $12 a week.
The Senate will recall that, for reasons associated with the need for economic restraint, the pension increases granted in April and October last year were confined to those pensioners who were receiving pensions at, or close to, the maximum rate. In view of the changing economic climate it is now possible to provide, in addition to the general increases just mentioned, further increases to those pensioners who did not receive any increase, or received only a part increase, in April and October 1971, to restore their relativity with other pensioners. This will mean that a single person without property affecting his position will retain some pension entitlement until his income reaches $46.50 a week. A single pensioner without other income will be eligible to receive some pension until the value of his non-exempt property reaches $24,580. For a married pensioner couple, the equivalent limits of income and property will be $81 a week and $42,920 respectively.
A Class A widow with one child and with no property affecting will now be able to receive weekly income of up to $67.50 before losing her pension entitlement, or up to $71.50 if her child is under 6 years of age or is an invalid. If she has no income, a Class A widow with one child may own property to the value of $30,340, or $32,420 if her child is under 6 or an invalid, before her pension entitlement is extinguished. Thus, apart from assisting existing pensioners, these proposals will enable some people, who are at present excluded from pension entitlement, to become eligible for the first time.
More than 1 million pensioners will benefit under the legislation before the Senate. Mr President, I ask for leave to incorporate in ‘Hansard’ a short table showing the numbers of pensioners who will receive increases, classified according to the amount of increase.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document reads as follows):
– The first group, of pensioners who are now receiving the maximum standard or married rate of pesion, will receive increases of $1 or 75c a week, as appropriate. The second group, in the ‘shaded area’, qualified for only part of the increases granted in 1971, and will now qualify for increases of between 75c and $2.25 a week each for married rate pensioners, and between $1 and $2.75 a week for standard rate pensioners. The last group received no increases of pension during 1971, and will now qualify for increases of $2.75 a week in standard rate cases, or $2.25 a week each for married pensioners. Those who now receive more than $1 a week are those who missed out on the two previous pension increases. The present Bill now restores their full relativity with other pensioners.
Under the present Government, the purchasing power of the pension - its real value in terms of prices - has constantly increased. This Bill will lift this purchasing power to a level greater than ever before achieved, because the present rise in pension rate is greater than the corresponding rise which has occurred in prices. It is just 6 months since the pension rate became $17.25 standard and $15.25 married. At that time the 1971 September quarter consumer price index stood at 119.2. The index for the March quarter 1972 has just become available and is 123.3. That is to say that during these two quarters the price index has risen by 3.44 per cent. If the standard rate pension of $17.25 had been increased by the same percentage, the increase would have been 59c - much less than the $1 which is proposed under this Bill. Similarly, if the $15.25 married rate pension had been increased by 3.44 per cent - the same rise as in prices - the extra pension would have been only 52c - as against the 75c which this Bill provides.
Thus this Bill continues the Government’s policy of increasing the pension by more than the rise in prices - that is, continually increasing the real purchasing power of the pension. On some other occasion I shall hope to give the Senate a summary of the Social Services advances which Australia has made since 1949, when Labor was last in power. I will also hope on some future occasion to discuss the underlying principles behind our policy. But I hope for a speedy passage for the present legislation, and will not open up these aspects now.
The full year cost for age, invalid and widows’ pensions, together with the consequential increases for long-term sickness benefit and sheltered employment allowances will be some $71m. Corresponding increases in Service pensions will involve almost another $5m a year, giving a total cost of approximately $76m. For 1971-72 the cost of the proposals I have outlined, including those for rehabilitation allowances, sheltered employment allowances and service pensions, will be approximately $15. 5m. The increases in pensions and associated allowances will become payable from the first pension pay day following the royal assent, while the increases in long-term sickness benefits will operate in respect of the benefit week ending on the date of the royal assent and each benefit week thereafter.
Mr President, I am sure that all honourable senators will appreciate that the Government is anxious to pay these increases as soon as possible. With over a million pensioners involved, honourable senators will appreciate also that this reprasents a mammoth task for the Department of Social Services, which may need to cut. one or two administrative corners in order to make these increases available to all pensioners by the earliest possible date. For example, it is usual for pensioners to be given written notification of pension increases such as those now proposed; however, on this occasion it is probable that written notifications will not be available in time. I am sure that honourable senators will agree, however, that an omission such as this can easily be justified in terms of the time saved. Moreover, perhaps the omission is not a major one as the measures now before the Senate have received considerable publicity since the Treasurer’s announcement and will no doubt continue to receive publicity in the news media as a result of our debate.
The Treasurer has announced that the new rates would apply as from the first pay day in May. If we can get the co-operation of the Senate, we may be able to beat this deadline, and have the Bill ready for the royal assent when His Excellency returns from New Guinea this week end. This will enable the new rates to apply to the widows’ pension payment, which is due next Tuesday, and to the age and invalid pension payments due the following week. I understand that it may not be possible to adjust the widows’ pension cheques - which go into the post over the week-end and on Monday - to the new rates; if so, the extra money will be included in their next instalment, so that they - like all pensioners - will benefit as from the first pay day after the royal assent. The Department of Social Services does, however, anticipate that for age and invalid pensioners the new rates will be paid immediately from the first pay day after they become effective.
This Bill marks another milestone in the continual improvement of our social services. That improvement will be continued yet further under this Government. I am sure that all honourable senators will welcome these further improvements in our social service assistance and, in recognising these proposals as benefiting not only (he direct recipients, but also the economy of the nation as a whole, will grant the Bill a speedy passage. Mr President, I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has requested that the Senate give a speedy passage to the Bill. If we do, it will be given royal assent this week-end, as the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who has just resumed his seat, has pointed out. The Opposition could not oppose the provisions of the Bill as they provide for an increase in social service payments and a change in the application of the means test. But this does not mean that the Opposition necessarily agrees with all the arguments that are put in order to justify the increased payments. The payments are acceptable; the arguments are not necessarily acceptable. I shall refer to one argument that was made. The AttorneyGeneral said:
This Bill will lift this purchasing power to a level greater than ever before achieved, because the present rise in pension rate is greater than the corresponding rise which has occurred in prices.
I do not see that that statement has much to do with the position. We are talking about a proper pension. That is what the Opposition is concerned about. With that short criticism of the Bill and in view of the request to give it a speedy passage, the Opposition is not opposing the Bill. We welcome it as something that will be to the benefit of pensioners who come under the provisions of the Social Services Act.
– The Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill. We are particularly pleased that the Government, in making the adjustments on this occasion, has seen fit to give some attention to the means test category of pensioners and to put them back in their rightful position. As we have stated during debates on successive budgets, they should not have been placed at a disadvantage when the pension increases that have taken place in recent times are taken into consideration. I must comment that it seems remarkable that the suggestions which we put and which were unacceptable to the Government only last August, after there has been a period of restriction of the economy which caused unemployment figures to rise and which created a sense of instability throughout the whole of industry, are suddenly acceptable and the economy has suddenly become flush enough for the Government to be able to afford to do the things that we suggested were within the compass of the national expenditure last August.
There must have been a realisation by the Government that the economy was not developing in the way in which it should under the restrictions. Perhaps some of the other steps that the Government took to control inflation, such as a reduction in interest rates, may be proving more effective than trying to impoverish and draw back the whole of the economy as a restrictive measure. I would confidently predict that if the Government pursued a policy of bringing Australian interest rates more into line with those of countries with similar economies the Government would find that still more of the problems of inflation would be gradually brought under control. As I have said to the Government time and again - we think it has been shown by the trend that the economy has taken - one of the major causes of inflation was the medicine that the Government was pouring into the economy. It was increasing costs by increasing interest rates. That idea is supported only by particular schools of economists and certainly not by all economists. It can never be shown that the practical effect of increasing interest rates has been to bring back under control an economy which is suffering from an inflationary spiral. Increasing interest rates merely adds to costs and impoverishes organisations that have debited finances. I refer to local government organisations whose main source of expenditure is the interest that they have to pay on the loans which have accrued and which have to be renewed because the organisations have not the money to repay them. The loans have to be renewed at double interest rates.
Having said that and having indicated our general approval of the Bill,I must say the only other thoughts that our Party would have are that perhaps the manner of the introduction of the Bill is further proof that ultimately some government with the wisdom to accept the Democratic Labor Party’s advice will set up an independent tribunal to decide these matters, will accept the recommendations when the independent tribunal makes them and will see that it is able to finance what is reasonable to give our pensioners a proper standard of living. Then we will not have a political football thrown into the ring very suddenly and with little time to see whether it is a football that we can kick around. I feel that if ever there was proof that pensions can become a political football, it is when whe have to consider Bills of this character in the circumstances in which we are considering this Bill tonight. We will do everything possible to see that it has a speedy passage through the Senate.
– in reply - I thank Senator Wilkinson and Senator Little for indicating the support of their respective parties for the Bill. They have made clear, as I think is abundantly clear from what is involved in the Bill, that they have no wish to prevent the passage of the Bill. I do not want to appear ungracious, but in response to what Senator Little had to say I do say that there is a difference of opinion among economists as to the value of interest rate increases in times of inflation. I would not like it to be thought that the Government is not without considerable economic advice from Treasury officials and Reserve Bank officials who in the business world have a standing and a reputation which must be respected. The advice whichthey give government and upon which government acts is something which a government, if it ignored the advice, would ignore at its peril.
Traditionally it has always been recognised in times of inflation that if the cost of obtaining money is increased it limits the amount of money in circulation. Whilst it may be in recent times that that traditional view has been subject 10 some questioning, it is not to say that those who question must be right. The real problem is that government carries the responsibility; it does the very best it can. I think the true measure of a government is that when it sees that possibly a line of policy it has been pursuing requires rectification, it is prepared to undertake that rectification. I think the recent measures announced by the Government, of which this measure before the Senate is one, are an indication of the way in which the Government approaches this matter.I thank the Senate for its ready acceptance of the measure.
Question resolved intheaffirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the Government’s proposals in the repatriation war compensation and service pension fields, as announced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) on 11th April. Many exservicemen suffering from very serious incapacity, or the more severe loss of limbs, as a result of their war service, will benefit from these proposals. All war widows who lost their husbands during, or as a result of their war service, and all service pensioners, will also benefit.
These increased payments are further evidence of the Government’s concern that those eligible for war related compensation, and those eligible for service pension, receive consideration consistent with the general economic situation and their needs. It will be appreciated that the proposed increases will benefit those who are very dependent on repatriation payments.
I shall now proceed to explain the proposed changes in more detail, giving the new weekly amounts and an estimate of the numbers who will benefit. Honourable senators will be aware that repatriation war compensation payments are free of income tax.
Special T & PI Rate
This will be increased by $2 a week to $44.50. This amount is payable to: Those who are totally incapacitated from war related disabilities or tuberculosis; those who are blinded; those suffering from the more serious double amputations; and those who are temporarily totally incapacitated.
Approximately 21,800 will receive an increase of $2 a week because of the increase in the Special (TPI) Rate; but the new weekly payment of $44.50 should not be looked at in isolation. Additional amounts or allowances designed for specific purposes are also payable, separate payments are made to wives and children, and many receiving the Special Rate or its equivalent are also eligible for service pensions payable under repatriation legislation.
Single ex-servicemen in receipt of the Special Rate can now qualify also for up to $1 a week service pension under the changes being introduced at this time. Because the restrictions which applied to the 2 service pension increases in 1971 are being lifted, married ex-servicemen receiving both the Special Rate and service pension will receive an increase of up to $2.25 a week in their service pension in addition to the $2 a week increase in war compensation - these combined increases represent an increased payment of up to $221 a year.
The Intermediate Rate
This is payable to those whose incapacity from war-related disabilities or tuberculosis enables them to work only parttime or intermittently, and who are consequently unable to earn a living wage. It will be increased by $1 a week to $31.25. There are some 1,800 recipients of the Intermediate Rate or equivalent who will all receive this increased benefit and, additionally, those of them who are receiving service pensions will also be eligible for an increase in those pensions.
Single ex-servicemen in receipt of both the Intermediate Rate and service pension will qualify for up to $2.25 a week more service pension, in addition to the $1 a Week increase in war compensation. This represents an increased payment of up to $169 a year. Married Intermediate Rate ex-servicemen will receive up to $2.50 a week increase in their service pension which, together with their war compensation increase, represents an increase of up to $182 a year.
There are at present some 50,000 war widows whose basic wai: compensation will be increased by $1 a week to $.18.25. Over 97 per cent of war widows also receive a domestic allowance of $8 a week and, additionally, some 19,000 of them will also receive an increase of up to $2.25 a week in their age or invalid pension. Thus, a war widow also receiving age or invalid pension will benefit by up to $.169 a year.
Honourable senators will, of course, realise that war widows with children of school age receive considerable repatriation assistance for the education of their children, right through to completion of tertiary studies. Free medical and related treatment is also provided for war widows and their children, as well as other fringe benefits.
As I stated earlier, service pensions are payable under the repatriation legislation. The rate of these pensions is the same as the age and invalid pensions. There are over 57,000 service pensioners who will all receive an increase, and an unknown number will become eligible for part service pension for the first time.
Single service pensioners on the maximum rate will receive the $1 a week increase, but those receiving less than the maximum rate could receive as much as $2.75 a week. The same range of increases applies to a married service pensioner whose wife also receives a service pension, and a service pensioner whose wife receives an age, invalid or service pension in her own right will receive an increase ranging from 75c a week to $2.25 a week. For service pensioners therefore, the increase will vary between $39 and $143 a year.
To summarise the effect of these proposals let me say that:
A single ex-serviceman in receipt of the special rate pension will receive an increase of $2 a week war compensation and could also qualify for up to $1 a week service pension; a married exserviceman in receipt of the special rate pension will also receive $2 a week increase in his war compensation and up to $2.25 a week increase in his service pension; a single intermediate rate exserviceman pensioner will receive an extra $1 a week war compensation and up to $2.25 extra by way of service pension, but if married, the extra service pension could amount to $2.50 a week; a war widow will, receive an additional $1 a week in her basic payment and, together with domestic allowance and age or invalid pension, could receive a total of $36.37 a week as against $33.12 a week previously. A war widow with 2 children will now receive $40.25 a week from repatriation plus education allowances and fringe benefits; and if she happens to qualify for age or invalid pension, a further $27.12 a week could be payable; all service pensioners will receive an increase and, depending on various factors, such increases will range from 75c to $2.75 a week.
Honourable senators will be interested in the fact that, since July 1970, that is, in less than 2 years, increases in the basic payments for Special (T & PI) Rate beneficiaries have amounted to $8.50 a week, or $442 a year; and that, additionally, very worthwhile increases have been made in supplementary benefits, such as Attendant’s Allowance and Service Pension. In the same period, most war widows have had their repatriation payments increased by $3.75 a week, or $195 a year; while a war widow with 2 children has benefited by $8.10 a week, or $421.20 a year since July 1970. Additionally, of course, asI said earlier, education assistance, medical treatment and other fringe benefits are provided.
The Bill appropriates the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the extent necessary to provide during the current year the additional payments to which it gives effect. The foregoing amendments will come into force on the pay day following the day on which the amending Act receives royal assent. The measures I have outlined reflect the Government’s continuing interest in, and concern for, those who have suffered loss or severe incapacity because of the demands of war service, or whose means are such that they qualify for service pension. Cost-wise they will add almost $1,500,000 to repatriation expenditure for this financial year. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Poyser) agreed to:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
It is the usual practice of the Government to keep the rates of pensions and allowances payable to seamen war pensioners under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act in line with the rates of pensions and allowances payable to other war pensioners under the Repatriation Act. The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to raise, in relation to seamen, the various rates of pension in line with the increases in corresponding rates being made in the Repatriation Bill just introduced.
Clause 3 of the Bill increases the intermediate rate of war pension by $1 a week to $31.25. The intermediate pension is paid to seriously disabled persons whose warcaused incapacities render them incapable of working other than on a part-time basis, or intermittently. Clause 4 substitutes a new First Schedule to the Act to provide for an increase of $1 in the weekly rate of pension payable to widows of Australian mariners.
The Bill does not have to provide for the increase of $2 to $44.50 a week in the rate of TPI pension, or for various increases in the weekly amounts payable in respect of the disabilities described in the Fifth Schedule to the Repatriation Act, as the increased rates under that Act will apply automatically to seamen pensioners by virtue of section 22a of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. As usual, the pension increases will be payable on the first pension pay day after the date on which the Bill receives the royal assent. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poyser) adjourned.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– These Bills have been introduced at very short notice. Despite the fact that I have not seen the second reading speeches or the details of the Bills, the Opposition does not propose to oppose them or to delay their passage through the Senate. But we have an amendment which we wish to submit to the Senate in relation to the Repatriation Bill 1972. It is in almost identical terms with the amendment that we moved during the Budget debate. I move:
– I ask the honourable senator to deliver a copy of that amendment to the table when he is finished.
– 1 apologise to you, Mr President, and to the Senate for the fact that I have not been able to circulate copies of the amendment because of the manner in which the Bills have been introduced.
– The honourable senator is not required to circulate a copy in the Senate, but he is required to deliver a copy to the Clerk at the table. I want that done now so that there will be an opportunity administratively for it to be circulated.
– We on this side of the House are still very concerned that although ostensibly the Government has increased the rate of repatriation pensions in the case of invalid and age pensions, it has not given full justice to all those who at the present time are receiving war pensions or are entitled to receive them. We get back to the fact that the Government has increased the general rate pension by exactly nothing for persons receiving less than 75 per cent of the pension rate. It has again completely ignored the persons who are dependants of persons receiving the general rate pension, other than those who are eligible for the special rates between the 75 per cent and 100 per cent pension rates. So, the position remains the same.
Child dependants of persons in receipt of the general rate pension and the TPI rate pension have not received any increase since the early 1950s. I cannot understand the thinking of a government that will introduce legislation in the panic manner in which this Government has on this occasion. The Government believes that the way out of the morass that it is in is to press the panic buttons and to introduce a mini-Budget. It believes that the people will fall for the cynical bribery that it offers in that mini-Budget.
Whilst supporting this legislation v/e add our protest against the attitude of the Government to the dependants - that is, the wife and children - of persons in receipt of the general rate pension and the TPI rate pension. The Government has failed to increase the rates of those allowances. From memory - I quoted these figures in my speech when legislation of a similar type was before us previously - since 1964 or 1965 the allowance of the dependant wife has not been increased. The situation now is that those in the upper echelons of pension payments are to receive increases - and quite rightly so - but the Government is refusing to assist the person in receipt of the lower pension rate. The TPI pensioner, who is a person who has suffered to the extent that he is no longer able to be employed in the community, will receive approximately half or less than half of what is accepted as the average weekly wage in the Australian community. The TPI pension is increased to $44.50 a week. The average wage today is in excess of $90 a week. The pension paid to a person who has suffered war injuries rendering him no longer able to follow any kind of employment is set at a level much lower than the average weekly wage despite the fact that if that pensioner continued to enjoy an earning capacity in the normal flow of his working life he may have earned at least as much as, and indeed in many cases much more than, the average wage.
The Government says to him that in spite of the sacrifices that he has made it will pay him a pension of $44.50 a week. On the present standards established by the Department of Social Services this is less than the amount required to stay above a poverty level of existence. The Government has adopted this line with respect to all social service payments, even in relation to widows, aged persons and ex-servicemen. The stage has been reached where their pensions are being reduced to below the poverty level despite the sacrifices that they have made on behalf of this country.
By way of the amendment that I have moved the Opposition now protests most strongly against the fact that, related to the average wage, a comparison between pension rates today and pension rates 10 years ago shows that they continue to decline. Pension rates today are far lower proportionately than they were 10 years ago and are reaching the lowest level in their history. The Opposition has moved this amendment to bring before both Houses of the Parliament the fact that, while giving passage to this legislation, it is totally dissatisfied with the way in which the Government has neglected the general rale pensioner and the dependants of those in receipt of war service pensions. I refer particularly to the children of such dependants. To add to our protest, we ask the Senate to carry this amendment.
– 1 indicate (hat the Australian Democratic Labor Party supports both these Bills. I indicate also that we will support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Georges.
– No, by Senator Poyser.
– One can be excused for the verbal error made under the pressure of the haste with which the Senate is dealing wilh these Bills. One should bear in mind that neither Senator Poyser nor Senator Georges has ever been frightened to express his point of view. Each honourable senator is usually most vocal. So, I confuse one with the other. The DLP will support the amendment moved by Senator Poyser. In dealing with social service matters the Government seems to be reluctant to pay due deference to families. We have had a great deal of difficulty in getting the Government to agree with us on the need to take action, specifically on the maternity allowance, which has been neglected over a long period. The Government seems to have some theory that adequate cover is provided if people are able to afford the rates necessary to obtain adequate hospital benefits and so on. It believes that by this people are covered adequately to meet the circumstances of maternity expenses.
– The Australian Labor Party refused to support our motion with respect to child endowment.
– We are trying not to introduce any hostility into our consideration of these measures. On many occasions the Australian Labor Party has refused to support the general principles which we have enunciated on general pensions. The Government, in its attitude towards families, seems to be imbued with a reluctance to give due consideration to the requirements in an economy such as ours in which prices have been spiralling. This has thrown an extra strain on the family unit, particularly on larger families. We have always pushed the argument that the current rates of child endowment have been insufficient particularly in respect to families with an excess of 2 or 3 children.
We accept the criticism that Senator Poyser has made because we have not h.:d the time to check the figures, with the exception of these figures in the second reading speech of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). I notice that the Minister does point out that there are payments in respect of the dependants of servicemen but he does not seem to expand on that statement to indicate that those payments are increased by this measure. This would give an indication that the matters raised by Senator Poyser are indeed factual. It seems that the dependants of service pensioners are not to receive through this measure the increase which one would normally expect them to receive if the Government was covering the range of social services in granting increases.
We agree with the criticism contained in the amendment. We would hope that in future the Government, if it continues to be the Government - and I am not making any pessimistic predictions in that regard - or whoever may form the Government
– The Victorian Executive will see that the present Government continues in office.
– It will be the ALP.
– But the DLP is gaining in strength every day. Who knows? We have been the alternative government for a long time. We have had to play that role because the Opposition has been in such a state, particularly with the disputation among its members. With the evidence of what happened in Victoria over the weekend who knows but that by the next election the Opposition again may be a rabble and the DLP, with its small numbers, will have to do the Opposition’s job as it has been doing for a considerable period. I would prefer that honourable senators who are trying to interject did not provoke me in the consideration of this measure. We are in agreement with the Opposition on this occasion. We have indicated that we are prepared to support the amendment which the Opposition has placed before the Senate. I hope that, after the amendment which we support has been dealt with, the Bills then will be carried.
– I thank the Senate for the speedy second reading that these Bills have been given. The resources available for war compensation purposes are directed according to priorities based on the extent of war related disablement and loss. The pensions are not taxable. The Government believes that the increases granted to TPI pensioners and war widows compare more than favourably with movements in the consumer price index and in the minimum wage. I have listened to the amendment that Senator Poyser has moved. The Government cannot accept it. We will resist it by calling ‘no’ when the amendment is put. I suggest that we now move to dispose of the amendment.
– Order! I wish to make the position clear. Senator Poyser has moved an amendment to the second reading of the Repatriation Bill 1972. This is a cognate debate, with the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill also being debated. So the first vote will be on the amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Repatriation Bill; then there will be votes on the remaining stages of the Repatriation Bill and on the remaining stages of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill. The question now is: That the words proposed to be added to the motion for the second reading of the Repatriation Bill by Senator Poyser’s amendment be added’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
by leave - Pursuant to the document 1 put down yesterday, it is now incumbent upon honourable senators to deal with the appropriations in the Estimates committees. I move:
It is estimated, having regard to the fact that there are supplementary estimates which take a much shorter time to deal with, that the times I have mentioned will reasonably accommodate the consideration of the Estimates. This is estimated against the background of the time we have used in previous years on supplementary estimates.
– As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) forecast yesterday, this motion follows on the document already presented. It seems to me that his motion is quite reasonable. If his forecasts are correct, consideration by the committees will conclude within those times; if not, we will have to take it from there. There will be no objection on the motion from the Opposition.
– There is one comment I want to make on this matter. I take it that the Senate will not be sitting at the same time as the Estimates committees are sitting.
– The Senate will not be sitting.
– This will not be another occasion when the committees will be sitting at the same time as the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– 1 did not record all the times for the sittings of the committees, but I question the justification for bringing to Canberra for a few hours honourable senators who will not be engaged on the Estimates committees that will be sitting here next week. As I understand it, the Senate will not be sitting on Tuesday; 2 committees will be sitting on Wednesday of next week from 4.30 to 6 p.m. and for possibly some time during the evening, and at that time the Senate will not be sitting. This will mean that honourable senators not engaged on those committees will be required only between 3 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday. On the Thursday 2 committees will be sitting between 2.15 and 5.45 p.m., which means that there will be a short morning session in the Senate, which may sit again for some time in the evening. So it would appear that for H hours on Wednesday and a short period on Thursday when the Senate will be sitting there will be quite a number of senators who will be asked to journey from all parts of Australia. There is some responsibility for honourable senators to be here when the Senate is sitting, but in view of the short time that it will be sitting I ask the Minister whether it would be appropriate for the Senate not to sit next week but for the Estimates committees to sit in order to finish their business. It would be at high cost that we would bring a number of honourable senators to Canberra in order to spend very little time in this chamber.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - ‘Minister for Health) (10.29) - in reply - The situation is that when the Senate introduced these committees we said that we would not in any way cut across the assembling of the Senate, question time or the process of presenting documents. Whilst we were not categorical about it in terms of the Standing Orders, this has been our understanding of the way in which the committees would sit. The second point I want to make is that it has always been understood - in fact, it has happened in practice - that even though the names of certain honourable senators are shown as being members of Estimates Committees A, B, C, D and E, any honourable senator can attend the meetings of any of those Estimates Committees.
– They have done so.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn fact, they have done so, as Senator Cavanagh has pointed out. I know that in relation to a committee which I have attended honourable senators who were not members of that committee not only attended its meeting but also asked questions in the course of normal interrogation carried on by that committee.
The third point I want to make is that we in fact have other committees. We have a whole series of Senate Standing Committees. I understand that, in the nature of things, next week it is likely that some of the other committees of the Senate, perhaps the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange or the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade which will be looking at this question of Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd, will be sitting also.
– It will be sitting for 3 days next week.
– 1 am informed that some of those committees will be sitting for 3 days. Even though the Estimates Committees will be sitting, the other committees of the Senate in fact will be able to fit in sittings on those days; so we all will have a very valuable role to perform next week. It is true that the Senate will not meet on Tuesday, but we will be here on Wednesday and Thursday. Circumstances may arise where it is necessary to introduce Bills. It may even occur that the Opposition will want to use the forms of the House for some purpose. There will not be any lack of opportunity to take part in the Estimates Committees - all honourable senators can attend those - or the 3 other committees which I have been informed will be sitting on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 18 April (vide page 1189), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the Senate relates to the settlement of matters arising out of employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in his second reading speech said that the purpose of the Bill is to make provisions in a similar manner to the provisions contained in section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the Public Service arbitration tribunal to deal with what are termed ‘industrial situations’. An industrial situation has a very wide definition. It is quite obvious that the basic effect of this Bill is to incorporate in the Public Service Arbitration Act a provision which is essentially similar to section 28 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act; that is, it introduces into the system Public Service arbitration conferences and compulsory conferences as provided for in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It gives the Public Service Arbitrator far-reaching powers to order a return to work, the lifting of bans, the cessation of regulation strikes, and so on. So the term ‘industrial situation’ is exceedingly wide.
Senator Bishop pointed out that this legislation can only lead to further discontent. He said that it will not settle those disputes or, as they are termed in the Bill, ‘industrial situations’; it will enlarge the areas and measure of discontent to encompass wider section of the Commonwealth Public Service. Senator Bishop said also:
I believe that the Government’s actions in seeking to strengthen this legislation is in accordance with its policy of imposing further restrictions on the ability of trade unions in Australia to bargain with employers for an improvement in working conditions.
The position is that fines of $1,000 can be imposed on organisations and individuals, and this Bill is but a first step in the introduction of heavier penalties against Public Service unions, organisations and individuals. It is considered by members of the Public Service that these penalties are intimidatory. The Government, of course, is alarmed at the level of militancy in the Public Service. This measure is designed as a club to be ‘used’ in the hands of the Government. With this legislation it hopes to smash down the just struggles of public servants who are behind in their economic and job demands. I assure the Senate and the Government that public servants are not in the mood to be intimidated. This type of legislation cannot alter the fundamental fact that public servants are falling behind economically. This is a simple reality that has led to widespread industrial action in the Public Service over recent years.
In these actions public servants have learnt one lesson, namely, that united they are a very powerful force and divided they fall. Their industrial actions have demonstrated that if they are united they have power. If they stop working the business of the country comes to a halt. It is this fact that terrifies the Government and, so it hopes to prevent the public servants from demonstrating their strength. It has only one method of doing this, by putting force onto the statute books. Fines and terms of imprisonment are examples of the type of force which is directed against the working people by the State. In whose interests is this force used? As everybody knows, the Government represents big business and the Public Service is run to suit the interests of big business. Of course, the thing is that when these situations arise the big business representatives say to the Government: ‘Something must be done to stop this’. On the other hand, the tycoons of business can sell out or plunder the country; they can raise prices and swindle the people; but the ordinary working man who seeks the best price for the only thing he has to sell - his capacity to work, his labour - is treated as a criminal if he does anything about it.
But the Government will find that these people are not criminals and it will find also that these proposed amendments to the Act are an insult to public servants. They are one-sided penalties. What sort of justice is this? The one-sided nature of the penalties can be illustrated by pointing out that the common form of bans clause inserted into awards under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act contains coercive measures. The provisions of sections 109 and 111 of the Act enforce bans clauses. At least in theory the system of coercion is visited equally on organisations of employers - in some cases individual employers - on the one hand and, on the other hand, organisations of employees and, in some cases, individuals. But in reality the system operates basically to penalise trade unions. The amendment projected by the Bill really can only operate one way, and that is against the unions and their members and public servants generally. The penalty imposed under proposed new section 12 for failure to attend a compulsory conference - $1,000 - cannot be imposed on the Commonwealth or any branch of the Public Service. There is thus ft distinction between the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and this measure in that this Bill provides for a totally one sided penalty.
The Government should be thoroughly alarmed at the disarray of the economy. We have inflation and increasing costs. We heard today about a 7.8 per cent increase in the cost of living. People on superannuation are being robbed of their equity in their superannuation benefits. Price fixing and restrictive trade practices continue and the Government is dilly-dallying about introducing legislation to protect the ordinary people against these things. Foreign investors, who toil not neither do they spin, are skimming the cream of profits. In turn all these things are creating disillusionment and militancy among public servants and other sections of the industrial work force of Australia.
As 1 said before, this Bill is the thin edge of the wedge. It will be a club in the hands of the Government and with it the Government will try to smash down the just struggles of public servants who seek economic justice and improvements in their working conditions. This measure has been condemned by every public service and post office union throughout the Western world as being contrary to the United Nations charter on human rights and as being a blatant contravention of the International Labour Organisation conventions dealing with trade union rights. It was condemned unanimously by a special conference of federal unions convened by the Australian Council of Trade Unions in Sydney on 12th April this year. That was a meeting of unions of various political persuasions, including the Democratic Labor Party. Even the DLP union representatives supported the motion at the conference, which was carried unanimously, and called on every senator to oppose the Bill.
– That was Mr Mayne, was it not?
13071/72- S.- (481
– That is correct. Senators Gair and Little are very conspicuous by their absence at the moment, after having criticised other honourable senators. During the debate on this measure they said that they were in favour of the Government’s action in introducing it. My colleague Senator Bishop and other honourable senators have pointed out that this Bill is totally one sided. The Government cannot fine itself; nor can it penalise any branch of the public service. At least under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, in theory, employers in private industry can be fined. But that is not the case in this Bill. This measure has been condemned by even the Spanish trade unions as being fascist. It can only alienate the goodwill of over 250,000 public servants in this country. It has been described in the daily Press as ‘get tough’ legislation against the unions but we have not heard anything about the introduction of legislation aimed at getting tough against Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd and other big combines in this country which can freely fix their rates of profit without fear of similar legislation being directed against them.
This measure contains the seeds of widespread discontent. The Government should be alarmed at the reason for this militancy in the public service. It is due to its lack of control over the inflationary trends in Australia. Despite all the makeshift measures introduced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), the pie crust promises made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and Government members generally, inflation still continues. This disunity and discontent is being created in the public service because of the discrepancy between salary rates and the growing cost of living. This Government should realise the work done for it by the loyal band of public servants in this country. This Bill is the thin edge of the wedge and its aim is to get revenge against the postal workers but it can be expanded to cover the whole length and breadth of the public service.
For those reasons, Mr Acting Deputy President, we of the Opposition believe that this legislation is unnecessary. The way to deal with these situations has been proved in the past. Conciliation and other methods that are available within the public service have served the nation well.
Only discontent can arise from the passage of this measure. We oppose this type of legislation and we believe that the Government will have cause to regret putting it on the statute book. Rather than bring peace to industry it will tend to stir up unnecessary trouble.
(10.47) - in reply - The Public Service Arbitration Bill has been debated in this chamber for some days. Senator Bishop led for the Opposition and he was followed by other speakers. The debate has ranged far and wide in many ways. All sorts of extraneous comments have been made with the indulgence of our Presiding Officers, but there always is indulgence during second reading speeches. It would be inappropriate for me to attempt to respond to all the arguments put forward. The point that I want to make quite clear is that from the very outset the Australian Labor Party decided to oppose this Bill in its entirety. That was the approach adopted by the Opposition. It was a judgment it made, as it was entitled to do if that was its wish as a party. In those circumstances, there being straight out and absolute opposition to the Bill, I think that much the same should happen here as happened in the other place where it originated. In fact in the other place the Australian Labor Party indicated its complete opposition to the Bill and there was the very minimum of debate. Indeed, during the Committee stage in the other place, there was only one short reference to it. The Bill passed through the other House and therefore I believe that I am entitled to adopt the view tonight that I should put it to the test in the Senate.
I propose to do that very thing in a moment or two. The Australian Labor Party opposes this Bill and the Government believes that its passage is appropriate. I think I should repeat the first 2 paragraphs of my second-reading speech because this debate ranged over all manner of things which are unrelated to the Bill. Senator O’Byrne even mentioned Spain a moment ago. Many other countries were mentioned also. All sorts of judgments were expressed about it. In my secondreading speech I said:
The purpose of the Bill is to make provision - in a similar manner to the provision in section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - for the Public Service arbitration tribunal–
This is contrary to what has been said - to deal with what are termed ‘industrial situations’. In short, these are strikes, bans or limitations on work engaged in by officers or employees of Commonwealth departments or instrumentalities.
By the terms of the Bill, if an industrial situation occurs or is threatened, a Minister, the Public Service Board, a Commonwealth instrumentality or a union may notify the situation to the Public Service Arbitrator. The Arbitrator or a Deputy Public Service Arbitrator will then be required to call a conference of the parties in an effort to put an end to the industrial situation. The Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator is given power to make orders for the purposes of putting an end to or preventing that situation or orders which, in his view, are otherwise necessary or desirable because of the industrial situation. These orders may relate to the conditions of employment of the officers or employees concerned in or affected by the industrial situation or they may direct the cessation of or prohibit engaging in conduct constituting an industrial situation.
There is a point which I shall make in relation to a matter which was dealt with by Senator Bishop, who led for the Opposition. He said that the unions had been frustrated by the Public Service Board. This hardly conforms to the facts. 1 have a document here which 1 think is rather significant. It contains information taken from the Public Service Board report. It shows the very great extent to which determinations of the Arbitrator have been made by consent, that is, by agreement between the Public Service Board and the unions. We find that in 1961-62 there were three arbitrated determinations and 32 consent determinations, a total of 35. I shall go down the list quickly because I want to get this matter to a division in a moment. In 1965-66 there were 10 arbitrated determinations and 131 consent determinations. In 1968-69 there were 14 arbitrated determinations and 232 consent determinations. For 1970-71 the figure is 31 and 249, a total of 280.
A whole series of points have been made. If we were in a different situation and if this were a different type of debate and a. different type of Bill we could deal with the points. It is not moving an amendment to the Bill but it is going to vote coldly against it. I think we should put the Bill to the test, and therefore I ask that the motion for the second reading be put.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Alcoholic Beverage - National Service - Business of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
-I want to raise a matter of importance.I have here 2 bottles. The first one is sold by a hotel in Australia. It contains an adulterated alcoholic beverage. I will be able to name it in a moment, when I mention the composition of it in technical terms. A certain hotel in Australia is selling it only to Aborigines. I have here another bottle of the real McCoy. This one costs approximately half the price of the other bottle; it is quite a genuine one having the tangy port smell. The other one obviously has been adulterated. I understand that quite a number of hotels do this sort of thing. It has been reported to me that in the area in which such liquor is being sold to Aborigines there is temporary blindness among some of the youngsters and many of them suffer from tummy pains - and the publican concerned goes on making a fortune. This is a reprehensible practice and it ought to cease forthwith. I ask the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) whether he will take appropriate steps to have an immediate inspection carried out at the particular hotel. For obvious reasons I shall not name it publicly at this time. I trust that appropriate assistance will be forthcoming from State authorities if it is necessary. If not, I shall be only too pleased to name the publican, the hotel and the State in a about a week’s time in this chamber.
I feel that another factor may come into this. I should imagine that the Deprtment of Customs and Excise would be more than interested in the fact that this liquor has been diluted by the addition of another mixture. The brewery that distributes the bottle of liquor would no doubt be delighted to know that another mixture other than its own has been added. This has been independently tested - unofficially of course - by a highly qualified scientist. The contents are a type of wine. According to his reckoning, there is 0.5 per cent of methenol in it, which may come from the ordinary fermenting of wine contents. There are indications that there is also benzine and pyradine in the bottle; it could be anything from 20 to 50 per cent. This measuring has not been done. I have no doubt that people in the Commonwealth Department of Health are highly qualified to carry out an analysis of it with a minimum of delay. I trust that the appropriate Government authorities will the take appropriate action, also with a minimum of delay.
A Townsville businessman has approached me and said that he is prepared to give a statutory declaration regarding a local corner store where he saw 6 bottles of methylated spirits being sold to a little fellow of 12 or 13 years of age who promptly took it around the back street to his little mates, and they proceeded to indulge in the metho binge. Black people, or low income white people for that matter, do not like to drink methylated spirits or any combination of methylated spirits and any other types of alcoholic beverage; but because of economic circumstances and as those who indulge in alcohol say that it gives the drinker a kick, they are forced to drink this sort of rubbish.
I believe that unscrupulous hotelkeepers and equally unscrupulous shopkeepers, large and small, ought to be effectively prosecuted for serving this sort of liquor to Aborigines throughout this country. Accordingly, Mr President, I leave this matter in the Minister’s hands with, I hope, a great deal of faith. I will give him a sealed envelope that contains the name of the hotel and the town where the bottle was procured. There are 3 witnesses who were present when the bottle was procured: I think that might tie up the legal side. I have brought the other bottle along for comparison purposes only and I would like to take it with me when I go.
– Yesterday I asked a question of Senator Wright, as the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, relative to a Mr Paul Fox. As I indicated it through my Whip and confirmed it a little later when I met the Minister in the course of the evening, I presume that he was aware that I intended to raise this matter, which is of interest to me, again this evening. I presume that he has a copy of the question and the answer. I want to refer to the question, because it is important. I asked the Minister:
Is it a fact that Paul Fox, who was sentenced to 18 months gaol on 3rd March 1972 for allegedly failing to comply with the requirements of the National Service Act, had applied on 3rd March 1972 to the Department of Labour and National Service for an exemption on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector? Is it also a fact that the Department of Labour and National Service did not acknowledge receipt of the application until 6th April 1972 and advised Mr Fox’s lawyer that the matter had been referred for legal advice? Is it also a fact that 2 letters which Paul Fox’s lawyer has written to the Department asking for a speedy hearing have not been acknowledged by it? I ask him why there has been such an inordinate delay in fixing a date for a hearing to enable the application by Paul Fox to be tested by a court of summary jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of section 29b. of the National Service Act. Finally, will the Minister, without further delay, comply with the mandatory provisions of section 29b.(1.) of the National Service Act and fix a date forthwith for the hearing.
The Minister in his reply - I read from Hansard - said, among other things:
It is not a fact that this man Fox on 3rd March made application to be classified as a conscientious objector. The fact is that, at the hearing on 3rd March, Fox who was not represented refused to plead to the charge and a plea of not guilty was entered by the court. He was convicted and sentenced on the same day- that is, on 3rd March - as a person having a clear liability to report for and to render service who hod not done so. He was given an opportunity by the court to undertake to report for service, but refused to do so. He was sentenced as the law requires to a period of imprisonment equivalent to the period of service for which he was liable.
By virtue of section 5 Id of the National Service Act, as a person sentenced to prison for failing to report for service. Fox no longer has any liability to render service under that Act. However, on 6th March - that is, 3 days later - after his conviction the Registrar for National Sevice received a letter dated 3rd March from a different firm of solicitors to that which had represented Fox at the pre-trial hearing, purporting to represent Fox and enclosing an application for consideration as a conscientious objector. That matter received immediate attention. It is a matter upon which legal advice is necessary. Every effort will be made favourably to give an opportunity to have the claims of this man to be classified as a conscientious objector tested by the court if the terms of the Act permit that now to be considered by the court.
That answer was completely unsatisfactory. I want to advert briefly to the statement in the answer by the Minister that it is not a fact that this man Fox on 3rd March made application to be classified as a conscientious objector. I have received today from the solicitor representing Mr Fox - nor purporting to represent Mr Fox but in fact representing him - a photostat copy of Form 7 which, as the Minister would be aware, is the application for determination of the question whether a person is a conscientious objector. It was signed by Mr Paul Fox on 2nd March 1972. I have the covering letter which was forwarded by the firm of solicitors representing Mr Fox. One was addressed to the Governor of the Pentridge Prison, Coburg, and dated 3rd March. It reads:
Enclosed please find copy of application for determination of conscientious objector for your information.
There was also a covering letter sent with the original Form 7 to the Director of the Department of Labour and National Service, 151 Flinders Street, Melbourne, on 3rd March. It reads:
Enclosed herewith original application for exemption on behalf of our client.
It cannot be said, as the Minister said in his answer, that it is not a fact that this man Fox on 3rd March made application to be classified as a conscientious objector. It may well be - I concede this - that between the posting of the application and its receipt there was a lapse of a few days. Nevertheless, it is not true to say that he did not make application. That was the origin of his application. The only reply that has been received by the firm of solicitors who are representing Mr Fox is dated 6th April. According to the Minister’s answer, that was the day on which the Form 7 was received by the Registrar of the Department. On 6th April, a Mr R. S. Saunderson, the Registrar of the Department of Labour and National Service, wrote to Messrs J. N. Zigouras and Co., barristers and solicitors, 52 Victoria Street, Carlton 3053. The letter reads:
The application by Mr Paul Fox under section 29a of the National Service Act 19S1 as amended for determination of the question whether he is a conscientious objector forwarded with your letter dated 3rd March 1972 has been received and has been referred for legal advice. 1 will let you have further advice shortly in this matter. 1 remind the Senate that at that stage the Department of Labour and National Service was aware that the firm of Messrs J. N. Zigouras and Co., Barristers and Solicitors, 52 Victoria Street, Carlton 3053, Victoria, was representing Mr Paul Fox. Between 3rd March when the letter was written to the Registrar and to the Governor of the prison and when the letter was received from the Registrar of the Department, the representatives of Mr Fox wrote 2 other letters to the Director of the Department of Labour and National Service. One is dated 7th March 1972. It reads:
Re: Paul Fox- ^Conscientious Objection.
We refer to our letter of the 3rd March 1972 enclosing application.
We would appreciate your deleting paragraph (b) of the application, as our client intends to apply for total exemption.
We would also appreciate your co-operation in bringing this matter on for speedy hearing having regard to the circumstances.
I think that the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service would concede that that was an important communication because it did vary the original application by Mr Fox. As the Minister would be aware, form 7, the application for determination of the question whether a person is a conscientious objector, is described in regulation 31 (a) and (b). Mr Fox’s representatives were asking the Director to delete paragraph (b) of the original application. No reply was received then and none has been received to this time. On 30th March the legal representatives of Mr Fox again wrote to the Director. The letter reads:
Our application for conscientious objection was forwarded on 3rd March concerning the above named and as yet we have received no reply.
We would like to know the reason why a date has not been set in view of the fact that our client has been in gaol since 3rd March.
The letter then proposes certain formal action. The letter finishes ‘Yours faithfully’.
It was not until 6th April that the original application, form 7, with the covering letter from the legal representatives of Mr Fox was acknowledged by the Registrar. The letter that acknowledges receipt of the form 7 and the covering letter makes no reference to either of the 2 letters which were sent on 7th March and 30th March. I again refer to the important content of the letter of 7th March to the Director in which the legal representatives of Mr Fox were asking the Director to delete paragraph (b) of the application ‘as our client intends to apply for total exemption’. The failure to answer is extraordinary conduct to say the least. The Minister replied to my question. What he said appears at page 1135 of Hansard. Referring to the application filed by Mr Fox, through his legal representatives, the Minister said:
That matter received immediate attention.
That was some time ago. What has happened in the intervening period? Since Mr Fox was imprisoned in the CoburgPentridge Gaol on 3rd March he was visited by and interrogated by a Sergeant Sullivan of the Commonwealth police. It would appear that the reasons for Sergeant Sullivan’s visit were two-fold. One was to ascertain when Mr Fox had made the application and had signed the appropriate form 7, and the second, from what I can gather from consultations late this afternoon, was to check his handwriting. I must confess that it is beyond my comprehension why any interrogation took place. This gentleman is known to be represented by counsel. I am led to believe - I am not a man of law - that in ordinary circumstances a person who is likely to be convicted or who has been convicted and is seeking to appeal has the Tight of recourse to his legal advisers. Obviously that was bypassed on this occasion. Does this mean that Mr Fox does not enjoy the normal rights of the ordinary citizen who may have been dealt with for a misdemeanour under common law?
Late yesterday Mr Fox’s solicitor fortuitously visited Pentridge Gaol to see Mr Fox. On presenting himself to the general office he learned that Mr Fox was to be transferred to Ararat Gaol, which is approximately 80 miles from the metropolitan area. He may have been moved without the knowledge of his legal adviser if it had not been for the coincidence that his legal adviser arrived at Pentridge that day. Mr Fox’s lawyer insisted that he remain in the city area because of the pending application for the consideration of his claim to be a conscientious objector. The lawyer does seem to feel, from my discussions with him tonight, that his main objective in ensuring that Mr Fox remain in the metropolitan area will be achieved. I am informed further that Mr Fox is in what is described as A Division of the Pentridge Gaol, I understand that if a prisoner is to be shifted from one institution to another he is required to sign what is referred to as a sign out. Prior to the intervention of his solicitor, a senior warder - I understand he is referred to as Senior West - had evidently indicated to Mr Fox the likelihood of his transfer to Ararat. Mr Fox was resisting the move. I would imagine that he was not prepared to sign the sign out. I am informed that as a consequence Mr West threatened Mr Fox that unless he played ball things would be made difficult for him. It is very difficult to reconcile the circumstances with the answer given to me by the Minister when he said:
Every effort will be made favourably to give an opportunity to have the claim of this man to be classified as a conscientious objector . . .
If that is his idea of favourable consideration I would hate to think what the position would be if he were to concede that he would deal with him unfavourably.
It would appear to me from what the Minister said - and one does not know this because an answer has not been given - that the Department may very well be looking at section 5 Id of the National Service Act. The Minister would be as familiar with this as I. Section 5 Id states:
A person who has, after the commencement of this section, been sentenced to imprisonment for an offence against section 51 or section 51 a of this Act is not liable to render service under this Act.
I do not know whether the Department is of the opinion that that section precludes the right of Mr Fox to lodge an application and claim to be a conscientious objector and to be entitled to have that claim tested by a court of summary jurisdiction. I find it hard to believe so because as I understand the Act, the Minister has the power to refer a matter to the courts even if the person is in gaol or in no way consents to the determination of the conscientious objection question.
I want to refer in some detail to an event which proves conclusively that what I have just said is a matter of fact. I refer to the case of Mr Brian Ross. I want to make it clear at the outset that 1 am not critical of what happened. In fact, I applauded at the time when the Government had seen fit, by whatever means it utilised, to make provision for Mr Brian Ross to be released from the Sale gaol. I quote this case because there does not appear to me to be any prohibition or limitation as a consequence of section 51d which would dispossess a person, who has been dealt with by the courts and is in fact serving a sentence of the right, to lodge a form 7 and have the ordinary processes of the law carried out.
This is what happened to Mr Brian Ross. He was sentenced to gaol on 29th October 1969 for failing to obey a call-up notice. These are precisely the same sort of circumstances as those which Mr Paul Fox experienced on 3rd March 1972. In August 1970 a representative of the Sale office of the Department of Labour and National Service visited Brian Ross at the Sale gaol and asked him whether he would be prepared to appear at a local court for an inquiry by Justice Smithers. Brian Ross agreed to appear on the due date, which was 24th August 1970, but he would not co-operate in the inquiry. He was returned to the gaol after approximately 15 minutes. Later that day, Justice Smithers rang the gaol and asked Ross whether he would return to have a further talk with him. Ross did return and a discussion took place in a room at the back of the court. The parents of Ross and a friend were present during some time of the discussion. A shorthand writer was also present. Justice Smithers informed Ross that if he wrote to him he would continue the inquiry. Ross did write and told Justice Smithers that he would not go on any further with the inquiry. This took place in the later part of August 1970.
On 3rd September 1970 a Commonwealth car was sent to Sale gaol. It took Ross to Melbourne to meet Justice Smithers and further discussions took place. Three weeks later Ross was released from Sale gaol. The date was 21st September 1970.
I repeat that Ross was dealt with in exactly the same way as Paul Fox. He was serving a sentence; and 11 months after commencing to serve the sentence he was released from Sale gaol. This young man did not plead any special claim and did not want any special treatment. Notwithstanding that, someone - and I feel that he is entitled to be congratulated - found some ways and means of making provision for Brian Ross to be interviewed by a gentleman of high standing who I understand was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Ross at no time attempted to parade himself or describe himself as a conscientious objector. Eleven months after he commenced to serve in gaol the period equivalent to the liability to render national service he was released. Therefore I think that the Minister will concede, when we take into account the circumstances of Mr Paul Fox, that it is extremely difficult to understand why he has been dealt with in this way.
The original application was received or acknowledged by the Registrar of the Department of Labour and National Service on 6th April. Today it is 6 weeks and one day since that acknowledgement was given by the registrar. It is beyond me why it should take all this time to determine whether Mr Paul Fox has a right under the Act to have his claim tested. I say to the Minister quite sincerely that his answer was not satisfactory in any circumstances. I see no reason why the legal department - I assume it was the AttorneyGeneral’s Department to which the Department of Labour and National Service would refer this subject matter - has taken 6 weeks to make up its mind whether or not Mr Paul Fox has a right to have his claim tested. I accept the possibility that the Minister may not yet be able to give me answers to the matters I have raised this evening, notwithstanding that he has had early advice. However, I request him to ask the Minister for Labor and National Service to expedite the facilities that should be made available to Mr Fox to have his claim tested forthwith.
– .Sometimes these matters place a great strain upon one’s tendency to extend every courtesy to honourable senators when they make their complaints here. This matter was introduced with discourtesy yesterday. I concluded my response then by introducing the word ‘favourably* to indicate to the Department and the Minister whom I represented that that would be my wish. The Hansard report of yesterday’s proceedings would scarcely have been distributed and the Minister concerned has been busily engaged on other national matters today. Yet, during the debate on the motion that the Senate do no adjourn, this matter has been taken up tonight. All the difficulties that are in the mind of Senator Brown could have been resolved in 10 minutes if he had cared to ring me or call at my office.
The actual, stark facts of Mr Fox’s case are as follows: He registered for national service in July 1968 and was granted deferment of call-up as an apprentice. He was medically examined on 4th February 1970, during which time he had ample opportunity to consider his mental attitude to military service. He was then found fit and asked to report for service on 22nd April 1970. He did not do so. He failed to appear in the court after presumably having been personally served with a summons to do so. He failed to appear in the court on 23rd September 1970. A warrant was issued and it was not until 25th February 1972 that he was apprehended on warrant. He appeared in the court on the same day. On 25th February his solicitor obtained an adjournment to 3rd March. On 3rd March no solicitor appeared for him and he announced that he had no legal adviser. He refused to plead and the court entered for him the most favourable plea that it could enter - not guilty. He raised no suggestion of conscientious objection. He was convicted and, as the law requires, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
– Did the Minister say a verdict of not guilty?
– I cannot hear any of that mumbo jumbo and I do not propose to pay any attention to interjections at this stage. I will content myself with the statement of the stark facts and I will conclude with the appropriate response to the honourable senator’s application because I am not prepared to turn the Senate into a court in substitution for the judiciary. I do not pretend to deal with the matter; that is the function now of the legal authorities. The court entered the most favourable plea it could in favour of the defendant and that was ‘not guilty*. The court then heard the charge, found it proved and, as required by law, sentenced the defendant to imprisonment. Section 5 Id of the National Service Act provides:
A person who has, after the commencement of this section, been sentenced to imprisonment for an offence against section fifty-one or section my-ona of this Act is not liable to render service under this Act.
The only force and operation of an application that a person has a conscientious objection to any form of military service is to give him exemption from military service. The opportunity for that lasts right up to the time that he is tried. When the person has been found guilty the court says to him: ‘Do you propose now to enter into a recognisance to perform your military duties?’ If the defendant refuses to do so, the law requires imprisonment. In fairness to the defendant, who by that procedure has voluntarily invoked upon himself the alternative to military service, which is imprisonment as required by the Act, section 51d exempts him from military service, he having brought himself under the obligation of civil imprisonment. That is where the legal dilemma arose.
As Senator Brown read to me the travail of this situation following 3rd March I would have required verification of the genuineness of the application and some opportunity for the defendant to state whether it was he who claimed to have conscientious objection after he had become involved by the accusation in 1968 and his pleading this belief some 3 or 4 years later. So it is not merely a question of the legal construction of the Act on the problems that I have presented. It involves also inquiries of a factual nature. That being so and the matter of this delay having been brought to the attention of the Department, my statement yesterday will stand as a proper request from the Minister representing the Department of Labour and National Service in this chamber. It is that I wish to have an opportunity for the purpose of affording at an early dale a decision as to what the situation is in fact and in law as to the application of conscientious objection. Despite what has been said, and however discourteous it may be, I am of no mind or heart to change my attitude to that as a proper response to an honourable senator’s reference to a matter of imprisonment.
The honourable senator then made reference to the case at Sale. It is obvious from the fact that a judge was asked to proceed with an inquiry that the length of imprisonment that that young man chose to endure indicated a doubt as to whether there was a real conscientious objection that had been overlooked or that he had not put forward during the court proceedings. An exceptional course was taken in favour of that man’s freedom. A judge was asked to inquire into the circumstances and to make a report, not as to the efficacy of the plea for conscientious objection as an exemption from service but as an aid to the Governor-General, advised by the Attorney-General, on whether the prerogative of mercy should be exercised in his favour. That being the situation, the honourable senator can be fully assured that the department involved will give the earliest proper attention to this matter of the freedom of the individual, as favourably as the law permits.
– I wish to take 5 minutes on this subject.
– I am not prepared to listen to the honourable senator.
– I did not expect that the Minister would.
– The honourable senator knows nothing of the case and it is impertinent to proceed further with it on the adjournment debate.
– We have listened to the Minister for the last 20 minutes.
– Order! There is no inhibition on any honourable senator in the debate on the motion for the adjournment to raise any matter that he wishes to raise. It need not be germane to the motion for the adjournment but it must not trespass on any business which has been debated during the course of the day as business of the Senate.
– After the relevant Minister has spoken-
– The honourable senator may speak on any matter that he wishes.
– After the offensive remarks of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who has a responsibility to Opposition senators to meet their requirements my statement that I wanted to take only 5 minutes on this matter may not bc a correct one because I think that the Minister’s attitude, as well as other things, requires comment. We have reached a stage in the Senate where the Minister thinks that by using superior phraseology and by adopting bulldog tactics in his presentation he has everyone frightened so that they will not dare to raise questions. He is also adopting the attitude that his legal capabilities are such that no-one should query his legal knowledge or his interpretation of an act. I do not have a copy of the National Service Act with me, but I remember very well that recently amendments to the Act were introduced relating to this particular subject. They were such that I participated by moving an amendment for the purpose of rectifying the injustice that might be happening to this lad about whom Senator Brown has spoken today. If we look at this matter, we see that what the Minister said originally was correct, that the objection had to be a conscientious objection to serving, a failure to serve.
These amendments to the National Service Act were debated at length in this chamber. The provisions of the Act in relation to conscientious objection were amended to provide that exemption on the grounds of conscientious objection could be obtained at any time when conscientious objection was acquired. Prior to these amendments, a conscientious objection to be acceptable had to be an objection that one had acquired prior to being called up. But as a result of those amendments at any time, including during Army service, a person who acquires a conscientious objection may have his objection heard by a court to determine whether it is a genuine one.
Apparently up to 3rd March Fox would not plead to this effect. If he had any conscientious objection up to that time he did not make application to have that objection accepted by the court. He was prepared to serve his sentence. I do not know whether he reflected on his attitude after his sentence and thought: ‘As I have a conscientious objection, I shall make application for exemption’, or whether he now has a conscientious objection to serving which he has acquired since 3rd March. Whatever the position, it is his right to have his case heard by a judge. At any time in the period when he is in gaol serving his sentence, by agreeing to undergo national service he can be released from gaol. Any application for exemption would be based on his conscientious objection to service. It may be a conscientious objection that he has acquired since 3rd March.
If the court does find that this man has a conscientious objection and had that conscientious objection on 3rd March, despite the fact that he never applied to be exempted on that ground at that time, the result will be that this man has been imprisoned unjustly for a period of 6 weeks. Yet he has no obligation at all to serve* Although he had not that obligation he would not exercise his right to apply for exemption, and because he did not exercise that right he was sentenced to imprisonment. This was the only thing that the magistrate could do with him. But Fox has appealed. Until such time as that appeal is heard no one can say whether or not he has an obligation to serve under the National Service Act.
I turn to the Brian Ross case. I agree with the Minister for Works that, when the Brian Ross case came to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), the Minister was of the opinion that it might be a case of conscientious objection and that Brian Ross had no obligation to serve under the Act. The Minister appointed Mr Justice Smithers for the purpose of investigating that claim. To get the Government off the hook at that time, in view of the protests on the matter rather than on the basis of the evidence of the lad, the Minister recommended to the Governor-General that he should exercise the prerogative of mercy and Brian Ross was released. Brian Ross was imprisoned for in excess of a year, I think, at a time when he had no obligation to serve. Because of the fact that he had no obligation to serve, he was not in breach of the National Service Act.
So that a similar case would not occur again, despite the defiance of an individual, the National Service Act was amended. By the amending legislation the Minister would be able to prevent such an injustice from occurring. If there came to the notice of the Minister a person with, or if the Minister was of the belief that a person had, a conscientious objection to serving under the Act, the Minister could refer that case to the court for determination. At the time the amending legislation was before us, I questioned very much why the matter was left in the hands of the Minister and how the Minister would determine in which cases a belief of conscientious objection existed which warranted the referral of the matter to the court. I was told that, if any information came to the attention of the Minister which confirmed or hinted to the Minister that someone may have a conscientious objection, the Minister would refer it to the court.
Surety from 3rd March, Fox had indicated to the Minister, or the Minister had sufficient indication, that his case was one of a man with a conscientious objection. What should be determined first in a case in which a man has a conscientious objection is whether he has a responsibility to serve. A hearing should be held on the question of service, but not 6 weeks after action has been taken. Correspondence should not be ignored. The Minister for Works may seek to justify the activities of the Minister for Labour and National Service today. I believe that the waterside workers have the Minister for Labour and National Service heavily engaged at the present time. While the Minister may excuse the activities of the Minister for Labour and National Service today, he cannot deny the neglect of the Department and its failure in these 6 weeks to acknowledge the letters to which I have referred. The Department is at fault in this case. At present a lad is in gaol. There may be no justification for his imprisonment. A lad is in gaol because he would not serve in our military forces but he may not have an obligation for service under the National Service Act.
Because of the determination of some lads not to take advantage of the provisions of the National Service Act, that Act was amended so that the Minister could see that injustices did not occur. Despite the Parliament giving power to the Minister to see that such injustices do not occur, we find that such cases are occurring today. When this matter, with the greatest dignity, is brought to the attention of the Minister for Works in order to try to force some activity from the Minister for Labour and National Service the reply that is given by the Minister for Works, whom we have heard tonight, shows that he is not fit to hold his position because of the manner in which he approaches an ordinary complaint from an Opposition senator.
– I wish to say at the outset that the Opposition would do well to abandon debating the subject of draft resisting and other matters concerned with the evasion of responsibilities under the National Service Act. The people of Australia and, more importantly, some of the supporters of the Australian Labor Party are waiting for the Opposition - the alternative government of this country - to declare what has happened to the dignity of the Australian Labor Party. Where are the Ben Chifleys of this once respected Party? It is time that they came forward to restore the image of the Australian Labor Party.
I do not very often take the time of the Senate during an adjournment debate. But I rise this evening because today we were unfortunate enough to witness a blatant waste of the time of the Senate by the Opposition when it raised a matter of urgency directed against the Government. The Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman), and honourable senators on the Government side, effectively dealt with the matter raised and proved that the charge was ill founded.
– I rise to take a point of order. The honourable senator is referring to a debate that took place in this chamber today. Therefore, I suggest that he is out of order.
– Order! I think that Senator Jessop is walking on a knife edge. On the other hand, the point of order raised by Senator Keeffe is based on a standing order of which I am perfectly aware. It refers to matters which are the business of the Senate in the course of its sitting. The matter of urgency was not part of the business of the Senate. But I would be grateful, Senator Jessop, if you would walk the tight rope, which you are obviously walking, with a great deal of care.
– Thank you for your generous ruling.
– It is not generous; it is a just ruling.
– I assure you, Mr President, that your justice is recognised and that I will try to walk the right rope with dire care. One would have thought that the abject failure of the Opposition in another place to prove some 3 weeks ago the charge which was the subject of today’s urgency motion would have deterred the Opposition in this chamber from introducing the subject for debate. This is clear evidence of the sterility of the Opposition in the Senate when seeking to introduce competent motions on its own initiative.
The debate proved to be uninteresting to the listening audience. In my view, it registered the complete disregard of the Opposition for the value of using occasion when the proceedings of this chamber are being broadcast to introduce for debate in the Senate subjects of public importance and not duplicating debates on subjects discussed in another place.
– Mr President, I rise to order. I draw your attention to standing order 406 which states in toto that no senator shall read his speech.
– The point you are making is one I am inclined to agree with, but in this case I cannot demonstrate or prove that the speech is being read.
– I thank you, Mr President. I noticed that Senator Brown earlier in the adjournment debate was referring to copious notes also.
– Order! I want to make it clear that a predecessor of mine invented the phrase ‘copious notes’, and I am getting tired of it.
– I will confine myself to my subject. I was referring to the appalling situation today when the Opposition in the Senate introduced a duplicated subject from another place. The guilt of the Opposition in this regard was made quite clear during that debate when Senator Mulvihill, realising the failure of the Opposition to arouse interest in the subject matter, moved That the question be now put’ before he resumed his seat.
– I rise to order. I would like a definition from you, Mr President, of what constitutes the business of the Senate. Is it matters that come before the Senate for discussion or is it only Government business?
– I will read the relevant standing order. Would you like me to do that?
– I certainly would.
– Standing order 413 was amended on 26th September 1969 and now reads:
No Senator shall allude to any Debate or proceedings of the same session unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion.
It is on the basis of the words ‘relevant to the matter under discussion’ that Senator Jessop may proceed; but I warn him again to watch his step.
– I am referring to the valuable broadcasting time of the Senate. I believe that today we have seen it misused. I have also referred to my friend Senator Mulvihill who, when he realised just how uninteresting the subject matter was, moved ‘That the question be now put’, and well he might have because his supporters were not in evidence in the chamber. In fact,I counted only 3 in the chamber at that time. I suggest that the absence of the Australian Labor Party senators during Senator Mulvihill’s speech - and it was a reasonable contribution from him - displayed the lack of interest of-
– Mr President, I rise to order. I refer to standing order 416. We have heard your ruling relating to the business of the Senate. However, standing order 416 states:
No senator shall allude to any Debate of the current Session in the House of Representatives, or to any Measure impending therein, unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion.
I am submitting that Senator Jessop has stated that this question was debated in the other House quite recently in this session and, therefore, under standing order 416 it cannot be debated in this chamber.
– I was wondering, when Senator Jessop alluded to the House of Representatives, when some honourable senator would take issue on that. The matter has gone under the bridge as far as I am concerned. As he has made no subsequent allusion to it, Senator Jessop may continue to discuss matters that are relevant.
– Mr President, are you saying that you can never rectify a wrong that has been done?
– The wrong has been done. Senator Jessop may retract it at some subsequent stage if he likes, but he is not talking about it now. The point was not taken at the time and I, therefore, cannot uphold Senator Cavanagh’s point of order. I point out to Senator Jessop that the hour is getting late and we are getting weary.
– I appreciate that fact. Perhaps the interjections have contributed to the delays which there have been in this debate. I suggest that the broadcasting time of this chamber should be confined to matters of public interest and matters of original initiative in this place and that we should not waste our time on matters of complete and utter irrelevance. The fact that honourable senators opposite were not in the chamber indicates to me a lack of interest in the defence of this country. This will be deplored suitably by the people of Australia at a later time this year.
(11.55) - in reply - Senator Keeffe raised a matter during the adjournment debate tonight and he has supplied me with a bottle confining some liquid or fluid which he indicated in his speech had some improper mixtures in it. I listened to him very carefully. It may well be that the points he raised are not within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth but are within thejurisdication of the States. However, in fairness to him I will sort that out and try to seek the facts for him. He also said that this might be a matter for the Department of Customs and Excise. I will have that examined too, and report to him in due course.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.56 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were given:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Is it a fact that persons who have left school either under discretionary, provisions of the relevant Education Act or who are above the minimum school leaving age, are, if unable to obtain employment, ineligible for unemployment benefit if they are under 16 years of age.
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Social Services Act authorises payment of unemployment benefit to males between the ages of 16 and 65 and to females between the ages of 16 and 60. This has been the position since unemployment benefit first became payable in 1945.
However, where special circumstances involving hardship exist, payment of special benefit may be made to a person under 16 years of age who, after becoming a member of the workforce subsequently becomes unemployed.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister:
Is it a fact that in the Commonwealth Public Service furlough is not paid to the legal representatives of a single person whereas it is paid to the representatives of a married person. If so, will the Minister undertake to examine and remove this strange anomaly.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Prime Minister has been advised by the Public Service Board that the Public Service Act 1922-1968 and the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act 1943-1968 provide respectively that, upon the death of an officer or employee, the Public Service Board may authorise payment in lieu of furlough only to the dependants of the officer or employee. Payment to dependants is made regardless of the marital status of the deceased officer or employee.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
What is the normal period of time between the application by a British migrant for Australian citizenship and the acquisition of that status.
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The grant of Australian citizenship to a British migrant seeking registration as an Australian citizen under section 12 of the Citizenship Act 1948- 1969 is normally completed within 3 months from the receipt of the application. The period is often shorter as it varies according to a number of factors, e.g., the rate of receipt of applications, the nature of the inquiries that are necessary in each case and the applicant’s ability to attend for interview. A review of procedures is being made with the objective of reducing the period required.
The acquisition of Australian citizenship by a British migrant who, under section 11c of the Citizenship Act 1948-1969, gives notice of desire to become an Australian citizen, is effective from the date upon which the notice is received by an authorised officer.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Are young men, who become eligible for national service registration while serving a gaol sentence, exempt from tbe requirement to register; if so, are they required to register on release from gaol.
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Men in gaol are liable to register for national service in the same way as other men in their age group when required to do so. I also refer the honourable senator to my reply to Question No. 1344 in which I detailed the steps taken to ensure that all necessary information and the means to effect registration are available to the responsible prison authorities throughout Australia and that the requirement to register is brought to the attention of men in gaol who may be required to register within a particular registration period.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Does the transfer of the Australian Fauna Authorities Conference Secretariat to the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts mean that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Wildlife Research Division will also come under the control of the Minister.
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The status of the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research will not be affected by the transfer of the Australian Fauna Authorities Conference to the Department of the Environment, Aborigines andthe Arts.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What was the outcome of the discussions in Washington last November between Australian and United States officials regarding the conditions for the release of United States diffusion technology.
Senator COTTON- The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
United. States officials outlined a number of conditions under which its technology for uranium enrichment might be released. There is no point in considering these conditions further, however, until additional technical and economic data becomes available. This data is being prepared by the United States and should be made available soon.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 April 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720419_senate_27_s51/>.